INDIANAPOLIS — This year, the City of Indianapolis announced historic investments into crime prevention and public safety thanks to the American Rescue Plan.
Part of the funding included $37.5 million to organize the Indy Peace Fellowship, under the Office of Public Health & Safety, which works to rescue people from the cycle of violence.
“He’s had his mother killed, his father killed, his brother killed and now his little brother has just been murdered as well,” Marvin Smith, one of the fellowship’s life coaches, said of a person he coaches while speaking to city-county council members during Wednesday’s Public Safety & Criminal Justice Committee meeting.
It takes a committed person to build a relationship with a man who lost four immediate family members to homicide. OPHS’s Peace Fellowship members are the people who sign up for this work.
They are zeroed in on the people who are most likely to either commit violence or become victims.
“It may be some simple things like hey, we need our driver’s licenses, or hey, we need help with expungements,” Della Brown, an outreach worker, said.
American Rescue Plan dollars allowed the fellowship to get started with money to hire 50 peacemakers – which are the life coaches, outreach workers and violence interrupters.
Members of this team meet with the IMPD command staff and other key players in the criminal justice system each week to review the previous week’s shootings.
These meetings give them a list of names whom OPHS will work to engage the next day. The goal is always to save a life.
“If somebody dies then there could be an additional three to four deaths based off of retaliation numbers,” Deputy Mayor Lauren Rodriguez said. “Our goal is to make sure that we minimize those numbers as much as possible.”
This year, the city’s reported a 14.5% decrease in homicides and a 12.5% decrease in nonfatal shootings. Those are welcomed numbers by people who devote their time to crime prevention.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that it’s a contributing factor, as well as IMPD’s efforts, as well as the private organizations, and the public organizations, the nonprofits, the churches,” Rodriguez said. “It’s not just us, right? But I do believe we are contributing.”
Some other additional metrics OPHS updated councilors on during Wednesday’s meeting include:
- 654 conflicts interrupted which could have led to violence
- Response to 310 shooting scenes to support loved ones
- 14,145 hours spent collectively working with fellows, which are the people in Indy most prone to violence
- Collectively, attended 2,078 community events