City-County Council approves $300,000 for city’s first witness protection program

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Indianapolis City-County Council approved a measure that would establish the city’s first witness protection program.

The 22-0 vote earmarked $300,000 for the program. The money will go to the city’s Office of Public Health and safety. Law enforcement agencies will use the funds to help people who witness crimes with costs for bus tickets, hotel rooms and security.

Indianapolis wrapped up a deadly year in 2017, and Indianapolis Metropolitan police have expressed frustration with a lack of cooperation from potential witnesses in homicide cases. Investigators said many potential witnesses fear retribution if they testified.

The program is another attempt to stem the tide of violence in Indianapolis, which saw record numbers of homicides in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Many of those cases remain unsolved. And 2018 is off to a deadly start, with 17 criminal homicides reported so far.

Council president Stephen Clay, one of the proposal’s supporters, called the inability to prosecute cases because witnesses won’t step forward “a crisis of epic proportion.”