100 homicides put Indy ahead of 2017’s record pace

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – In 2017, it took until August 24 for Indianapolis to record its 100th homicide of the year.

In 2018, that benchmark was reached Sunday night when three people died of gunshot wounds at 2616 Ethel Avenue.

Last year, Indianapolis recorded 177 homicides, criminal, self-defense and accidental. So far this year, the city is on pace to beat that record.

Mayor Joe Hogsett chanted, “We want peace in our streets,” as he marched with Police Chief Bryan Roach and frustrated neighbors on the east side last weekend.

Monday night, the mayor introduced his 2019 city budget which includes $700 million in public safety spending and nearly $4 million in community violence reduction funds.

“We don't want to be like Chicago,” said Dawn Walker of Great Commission of God Church after the Hogsett’s address, “but maybe the size of our city maybe we're a little bit closer than we think.

“We all have to do our part. This is not just the leaders of the city and those in position of public safety but the whole entire community has to come together and I believe when we start doing that we'll start seeing a big change in the violence in our city.”

Genis Brown is a small businessman, a father of five and a mentor to young people on the city’s far eastside, but he remembers what it was like to be armed for the first time.

“First gun I got, 8th grade. That’s when I got my first gun,” he said. “I had to protect myself just to defend off someone who wanted to take something from me.”

Brown estimates at least 50 percent of the friends he grew up with died from violence.

“There’s guns all the time around the community and people see a gun and they’re like, ‘Oh, I’m gonna save up my money and buy a gun and protect myself,’ or to do whatever you gonna do with it.”

IMPD reports its 2018 clearance rate for homicides at 69 percent, a full 25 percent above last year’s final total.

The changing nature of homicide with more one-on-one fatal grievances where everyone involved knows each other leads detectives to quicker investigative solutions.

Mayor Hogsett’s $300,000 witness protection fund and the addition of a Marion County sheriff’s deputy to work alongside prosecutors to convince those who know about murder to testify are also credited with boosting the clearance rate.

The website SafeWise recently found Indianapolis to be the 10th most dangerous city in the United States based on 2016 FBI crime statistics and population data.

Monday night, the City County Council determined violence to be a public health danger in Indianapolis, a declaration that permits the city to seek a wider source of grant funding to pay for anti-crime programs.

A council resolution to seek a General Assembly ban on semi-automatic rifles in Indiana failed.