Murder up, but overall crime down in the Circle City

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – When each newscast leads off with a headline that trumpets the city’s record-setting murder tally with fresh numbers comparing this year’s spilled blood to that of the year before, it’s hard to understand that overall crime is decreasing across Indianapolis.

The FBI reported that crime dropped 10 percent from 2016 to 2017 in Indianapolis and robbery was off by more than 12 percent.

IMPD statistics show robberies are down another 17 percent so far this year and burglaries are off 20 percent from last year.

But killings and aggravated assaults, often with guns, are up.

As of Monday morning, IMPD had investigated 129 homicides resulting in 118 murders.

On October 1, 2017, those numbers stood at 127 homicides and 109 murders.

When it comes to motives, according to a mid-September report, IMPD attributed 25 killings to unknown reasons, but 26 to arguments, 16 to robberies, 10 to fights, nine to domestic disputes, seven to revenge, seven to self-defense and the rest to drugs or other reasons.

The murder of Tykece Mike-Jones at the Hampton Court Apartments Friday night was over the attempted sale of a cell phone, the type of killing IMPD has tried to warn internet sellers about before.

“If you gonna sell something on line or buy something on line, IMPD and the city has set up safe zones for us to use to meet up with that person,” said Damon Lee, a South Butler-Tarkington resident who has led the community battle versus crime for three years. “IMPD don’t care if the item is stolen, they don’t care what kind of item it is. They just have a place for you to go and make that exchange so both parties are safe. That’s a preventable murder and a preventable robbery.”

IMPD reports nearly 50 percent of this year’s murders have been the person-to-person violence that is hard to predict or prevent.

Police credit the prevalence of surveillance cameras and better lighting and community involvement for bringing down the crime rate citywide.

“It’s like Christmas over here. Everybody’s adding at least a light in the back of their house. The street lights are brighter. You have to light it up at night because that sort of deters criminals,” said Lee. “You better have a surveillance camera if you can afford it.”

Lee and neighbors organized to patrol their community, work closer with IMPD and open up communications with their homeowners association in an attempt to stop the crime that claimed five lives in late summer and early fall of 2015.

“If you see something suspicious you have to call the police. That’s one of your jobs,” he said. “That’s your job as a neighbor.”

The city was recently informed it would receive nearly $800,000 in federal funds to step up gun crimes investigations and prosecutions.

Last week, IMPD announced it seized 55 firearms off the streets.

Federal prosecutors have taken 150 local violence and gun cases to U.S. District Court so far this year in an attempt to win convictions with stiffer sentences.

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