INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Dozens of teenagers attended a forum at the Indiana Black Expo Saturday to learn about ways to tackle violence in Indianapolis. The event is just one component of a summer-long campaign to encourage cooperation between young people and police.
The Real Talk Teen Conflict Resolution forum included a panel made up of a mother who lost her son to gun violence, teenagers and IMPD Chief Bryan Roach. Those in attendance took the opportunity to speak directly to Indianapolis' top cop.
"He was saying his honest opinion of his feelings so I thought people connected with that," said Payton Morris, one of the young people on the panel. "He wants us to know that IMPD is striving to help the community and not just the shootings you see around."
By the start of this summer, 11 teenagers had been shot and killed in Indianapolis. One of the more recent cases involved two Warren Central High School students who died following a shooting ont he west side.
During Saturday's forum, teens brought up important topics like police bias toward people of color and the need for more minority officers.
"It was clear they wanted to hear about what police were doing, what police can do and even how youth interact with police during these days," said Officer Aaron Hamer, public information officer for IMPD. "It was really good."
The forum is part of a campaign launched by IBE Inc. to reduce violence in Indianapolis. A series of ads will run through the end of August featuring people like Mayor Joe Hogsett and former Colts player Robert Mathis sharing positive messages for teens.
The goal is to cultivate more trust between teens and police. The message "see something, say something" appears at the end of each ad.
"We all need to work together to make a more positive impact on the community," Morris said.
"It’s a healthy discussion to have," Hamer added. "We want to make sure it continues with youth, police and parents."