City leaders outline crime prevention efforts focused on youth, community members share their ideas

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Gathered around an Indianapolis porch Tuesday  night were more than half a dozen community members, all impacted by violence in some form or fashion, learning about the city's plans to prevent crime this summer. The efforts, in part, focus on youth.

"I've been over here all my life, I've caught cases all my life, I've been in trouble all my life," Clayton Rudolph said.

The now 39-year-old is on house arrest, but he said his first gun case came when he was just 11 years old. He's been in and out of trouble since, but says he is focusing on his family and staying on the right path now. But when he sees youth today?

"This ain't violence, this is crazy," he said.

He's joined by others united by a passion to reduce violence and keep youth away from it.

Malachi Israel runs an organization helping introduce youth to STEM programs.

"Some of our young people feel that they have no way out, but if you give them a way out, you provide them with the opportunities, then they have a way out. We believe the best way to do this is through education," Israel said.

Tauhidah Dullen has lost multiple cousins, including one who was just 15 years old, to violence.

"People don't understand how much it affects the families. Even though you were retaliating or whatever may be, the families suffers for it really bad," Dullen said.

Her brother, Eugune Dullen, points to a need for unity between different communities outside of Indianapolis as well.

"We keep isolating the problem and talking to segregated groups," he said.

Next to him sits Donald Eason, a minister who grew up in Detroit without a father in the home and is now working with youth in Indianapolis.

"We can have organizations to stop violence, we can have organizations that will have these programs in our neighborhoods, but until we start working on our families, the family is the foundation of the community, it's the foundation of our country," Eason said.

Regina Jones started an organization helping youth and teaching young girls their worth after she says her nephew survived being shot 19 times and started turning his life around.

"It needs to start in the home. You can't blame the government, the police, the preachers and all that, it starts at home," Jones said.

They're all brought together by James Wilson. He works with kids as the CEO of Circle Up Indy to keep them from violence after spending part of his youth on the street.

"I understand what these young cats are going through because I've been there, my mind was set," Wilson said. "I had it set in my mind that I never thought I'd see 25 ever, I didn't care about seeing 25. Only thing I wanted to do was get this money in the street and kill anything that gets in my way."

They're learning about the mayor and IMPD's plans to help reduce and prevent crime, by focusing in part on youth.

"I think today's message, and the message that the message that the public ought to be cognizant of is that IMPD is committed to a holistic approach that gets into the neighborhoods before anyone gets in trouble, before they have access to the guns or stay away from people who are using guns," Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said.

Programs outlined included the Project Safe Neighborhoods Juvenile Re-entry Program, which focuses on employment and educational opportunities for young adults in the juvenile probation department who have a history of association with a firearm. City leaders say community-based beat policing, rolled out in April, combined with data analysis, will help officers to target enforcement of violent offenders and juveniles who are at risk of involvement in a firearm crime. More officers will also allow police to spend more time engaging with at risk youth, in part through different community organizations and programs.

Back in December, the mayor also promised $3 million to fund a community-based crime prevention program, helping get peacemakers into the streets. The director of that program who is just days into her job says reaching at-risk youth will help slow violence.

"Sometimes all it takes is the right people at the right time to touch your life and encourage you," said Community Violence Reduction Director Shonna Majors.

As they learned of the programs, community members watching the city unveil its efforts said there needs to be a conversation with youth, a focus on parents as well and a plan to deal with economic issues.

"The programs are good if they're strongly effective, but if you really want to hit hard on something you've got to build those relationships, too, with the community, too. You've got to look at economics," Wilson said.

It comes down to role models for the residents gathered. It's what Clayton Rudolph said he didn't have growing up. He believes programs like those outlined by the city may have made a difference.

"I'd have had somewhere to go instead of just hanging out in the streets selling dope or toting a gun," Wilson said.