FBI says overall crime dropped in Indy in 2017 despite increase in murders, aggravated assaults

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The FBI, reporting statistics gathered by IMPD, showed that crime dropped significantly in Indianapolis from 2016 to 2017, despite increases in the headline-grabbing cases of murder and aggravated assaults, many of those attacks committed with guns.

Two years ago, 98,238 crimes were reported in Indianapolis. Last year, that number dropped to 88,708, an approximate 10 percent drop.

While the number of murders increased from 148 to 156 and the number of aggravated assaults climbed from 7,099 to 7,307, all other crime categories went down.

“I’ve looked at our homicides for 2018 and what we’ve found is about 48 percent, almost half of them, involve conflicts, conflicts that are spur of the moment, heat of the moment kind of arguments or disturbances or fights, simple things, over a pair a jeans or over a social media disagreement and they end up in someone dying,” said IMPD Deputy Chief Chris Bailey. “I think that we’ve seen a significant decline over several years now from property crimes. What’s more significant to me is looking at the robberies down over 500 instances from 2016-2017.”

There were 3,976 robberies reported in 2016 compared to 3,485 last year and Bailey said current trends show that statistic dropping nearly 20 percent this year.

“I can tell you that the tactics that we employed with our robberies has helped reduce that number. We created a covert robbery section that really reduced those robbers that are committing multiple acts of robbery across the city whether they hit a Family Dollar four times or they’re doing internet based robberies. We have a group of individuals that really dig into those robberies, identify suspects and go out and lock ‘em up,” he said.  “If we can keep reducing those type of incidents we also, I think, reduce some of those spur of the moment homicides that we’ve seen this year.”

Property crimes decreased from 41,540 in 2016 to 38,418 in 2017.

Reports of burglaries and larcenies and thefts also showed similar drops.

“As far as burglaries are concerned, technology has really reduced those kinds of things. Everybody has video cameras in their house, they get alerts when someone enters their porch and it’s really cheap to get those kind of systems and add them to your house,” said Bailey who also praised the number of residents willing to call in suspicious behavior in their communities.  “Then we see a decrease in property crimes like larcenies and burglaries, what that tells me is we may have a reduction in the amount of the illegal guns that are on the street, guns that are gotten through those means, either through a burglary of a vehicle larceny.”

The release of the FBI report comes one week after the Central Indiana Community Foundation and the Indianapolis Foundation announced more than $2.6 million in community crime prevention grants.

CICF unveiled grants to 52 organizations, ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, for programs that will focus on serving young African American males and provide intervention and prevention to adults or youths currently involved with the criminal justice system.

Those funds come from the City County Council.

The Indianapolis Foundation, drawing on its endowment and donors, provided $322,000 in grants to 11 not-for-profit organizations that would address substance abuse, homelessness, mental health, food insecurity and other issues.

One of those groups receiving a CICF grant was the Ten Point Coalition.

“We received $30,000 for crime prevention to help out in the 46208 zip code so the Butler Tarkington, Crown Hill, ANWA, Highland vicinity neighborhood for the street patrols we do in those neighborhoods five days a week,” said Reverend Charles Harrison, Ten Point’s founder.

Harrison had been critical this summer of funders and Mayor Hogsett’s administration, claiming they had cut off financial support to his organization and did not seek Ten Point’s help in reducing the city’s murder rate and atmosphere of gunfire violence.

In May of last year, Ten Point received a $50,000 grant from the Indianapolis Foundation to hire an executive director.

Harrison said after talks with Hogsett and the CICF Board, his group received a third of its funding request this year to place outreach patrols on the streets of northwest side neighborhoods and focus on reducing violence among young African American males between the ages of 12-24 years old in communities where there were 22 criminal homicides in 2015.

“Our goal is to try to keep it below eleven a year and to have as few youth homicides as possible,” said Harrison.

Ten Point received significant funding totaling more than a quarter million dollars during the administration of Mayor Greg Ballard, a Republican, but saw that financial support slump as Hogsett’s office and the CICF Board demanded more exactitude in the group’s grant requests and follow up reports as to previous expenditures.

Harrison blames “politics” and Hogsett advisors for Ten Point’s lack of support.

The tightened requirements forced Ten Point to reduce its footprint in Indianapolis and concentrate on selected neighborhoods while seeking funding from state and federal authorities to expand its mission to dozens of other cities across the eastern United States.

Harrison touts a reduction in fatal shootings in Ten Point’s focus communities, the group’s outreach including feeding programs in the 42nd Street and Post Road corridor and anticipated presence in Haughville.

The U.S. Department of Justice also announced that Indianapolis would be awarded nearly $800,000 to fund crime analysts, create a crime gun intelligence center and buy ammunition for ballistic tests of recovered weapons.