INDIANAPOLIS – The City of Indianapolis is working to reduce the amount of violent crime in the city using data-driven efforts. However, it isn’t the first time that the city used similar efforts to combat homicides.
A 2009 study reports homicides in the United States reached an unprecedented peak in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Data from the FBI Uniform Crime Report indicates the murder rate reached a peak of 10.2 homicides per 100,000 people in 1980.
Cities across the country responded to the peak in homicides by implementing problem-oriented policing strategies. One of these strategies was Boston’s “pulling levers” strategy. This strategy was aimed at reducing youth homicide and gun violence by combining problem-solving and focused deterrence with linking to services and opportunities.
That strategy was replicated in several cities including Indianapolis in the late 1990s. An evaluation of several cities that implemented the strategy showed only Indianapolis experienced a significant reduction in the number of monthly homicides at the time of the intervention.
In Indianapolis, the city investigated to determine that homicides were being driven by young males, both as victims and offenders. City and community members met face-to-face with high-risk groups, focusing on the neighborhoods that were most at risk.
In addition, there was a specific focus on increasing collaboration and communication between criminal justice officials, community leaders, faith-based community leaders, social service providers, ex-offender groups, and Indianapolis educators.
A study on the results of the initiative focused on demographics of 15-24-year-olds in Indianapolis along with neighborhood-level predictors including divorce rate, residential stability and a concentrated disadvantage score.
The meetings were focused on three adjacent neighborhoods that experienced high rates of youth homicide. An emphasis was placed on incorporating positive social community support with the deterrent-based message.
As a result of this strategy, homicides in Indianapolis reduced from 146 homicides in 1997 to 96 homicides in 2000.