As city hits yet another homicide record, opinions differ about crime-reduction strategies

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The city of Indianapolis set yet another record for criminal homicides just days before 2019 began, as leaders try to get a handle on violent crime.

Detectives investigating the case of a man who was shot and killed inside a stolen tow truck declared it the city’s 159th criminal homicide, surpassing the number of such crimes last year, which reached 157.

“Anytime we have a criminal homicide, it’s unacceptable. It’s not something that we want to see,” IMPD Sgt. Jim Gillespie said.

Despite the high numbers, Gillespie held firm Monday to other numbers police and city leaders have touted in recent months, saying violent crime has decreased 17 percent overall in the period from July to December, compared to 2017.

2018 brought a series of announcements from the city regarding efforts to curb violence. In June, Mayor Joe Hogsett appointed Shonna Majors as the new Director of Community Violence Reduction. Majors has hired two Peacekeepers and plans to hire two more in the new year.

In mid-December, officials rolled out the Crime Gun Intelligence Center, or CGIC, which will launch in 2019 with aims at identifying serial shooters and getting illegal guns off the street.

Rev. Charles Harrison, the leader of Ten Point Coalition, has been a vocal critic of the city’s new approach.

“I think the issue now is that it’s too top-down, it’s driven from the city, and if you don’t get buy-in from the neighborhoods you’re not going to have success,” Harrison said Monday.

Leaders will work to get that buy-in as the new year begins and they look to the people who live in neighborhoods affected by the record murder rate.

“We’re here with them and we want to walk those steps with them as we (try) to really get those most violent people off the streets of Indianapolis,” Gillespie said.

IMPD expects to finalize homicide numbers in the coming weeks. The numbers do not include other cities in Marion County like Lawrence, where violent crime has also risen in 2018.

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