LAWRENCE, Ind. - Police say a man was found dead behind a dumpster Wednesday morning on the east side. The city of Lawrence is becoming no stranger to dangerous crime.
However, police are working now to stop the violence in their neighborhood. Lawrence police say the increase of crime in his city reflects what’s happening across central Indiana.
Young lives are being lost.
“Oh, big surprise, east side. That’s kind of sad,” said Lawrence resident Jamie Keeker. She’s lived in Lawrence for the past 18 years.
“This is not specifically an isolated issue to Lawrence.” Lawrence’s Deputy Chief of Police, Gary Woodruff, said as he showed us parts of his city that are falling victim to violence.
Woodruff grew up in the area and he said he’s even noticed the changes.
“I grew up in this area also, I grew up at 38th and Franklin, I’m an Arlington High School grad. Sure, we had conflicts sometimes in the neighborhood, but you resolve it in other ways.”
“It was a tough summer, it was a long summer, but our officers continue to be resolute in holding people accountable,” he said.
Lawrence police has noticed the amount of younger people with firearms, which leads to most of the violence they respond to.
In 2018, Lawrence has had seven homicides. The average is between two and four.
You may remember, a 16-year-old girl was found murdered at an apartment complex at the beginning of December. This summer, a birthday party turned violent after five teens were shot, one was killed.
"You never forget there’s a grieving family right now, there’s another grieving family that wants resolution to their crime, what happened to their loved one. You never forget that,” Woodruff added.
Woodruff says, it’s been challenging for him and his officers.
“Unfortunately, this year, we have seen violent crime occur more frequently than any of us are happy with. Having one homicide, that’s one too many.”
And residents feel the same way. Keeker, who has lived in this area for 18 years said
“It concerns me, so much so that I don’t really feel safe in my own home anymore,” resident Jamie Keeker said.
Woodruff says, there have been some improvements. The number of robberies has seen a slight decline.
“We typically average around 100, give or take, this year so far when I checked last week it was 92,” he said.
It will take the entire community, to help change the disturbing statistics.
“Lawrence is a tight-knit community,” Woodruff said.
"But residents agree, something needs to be done. “Who wouldn’t? It’s out of control. The thefts, the robberies, it’s just unbelievable. I don’t think it’s confined to Lawrence, but it’s definitely up in the numbers,” said Keeker.
Looking ahead to the new year, Woodruff says Lawrence is already taking action to hopefully lower the crime numbers. The police department is hiring on new officers and continuing to increase community partnerships.