INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Stung by a city-county council committee’s partisan defeat of a proposal to study crime less than two hours before four young people were found shot to death at a northeast side apartment complex last week, GOP councilors, Indianapolis ministers and the Fraternal Order of Police will announce a new citizen-driven public safety initiative at noon Monday at the City Market.
The “public safety call to action” comes as fifty ministers committed to address violent crime from the pulpit all across Indianapolis Sunday.
Last Thursday, FOP #86 President Rick Snyder, alongside four prominent clergy members, announced “a citizens coalition on criminal justice outcomes.”
The community-based groundswell initiative was in response to Democrats on the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee of the City-County Council, with Mayor Joe Hogsett’s backing, rejecting a Republican proposal to establish a study commission to examine the city’s long and short-term crime fighting strategy, new council proposals and gather best practices information from law enforcement professionals and the community.
“Local government has created commissions, committees and funded studies. We’ve heard from subject matter experts and adopted best practices,” said Hogsett the day after the proposal’s defeat and the discovery of the four murder victims at the Carriage House East Apartments. “The idea that if only we had one more bureaucratic entity studying violence then our problems would be solved… that is ludicrous.”
During his first term, Hogsett championed criminal justice reform, broke ground on a new Community Justice Campus and increased funding for community groups engaged in the fight against crime, all while IMPD has presided over a general decrease in crime but a leveling off or gradual increase in homicides, aggravated assaults and shootings.
“Because despite millions of dollars in taxpayer investments in policing and neighborhood anti-violence initiatives in recent years,” said Hogsett who campaigned as Indianapolis’ Public Safety Mayor, “time and time again we are confronted with the ripple effects of the proliferation of guns, drugs and poverty in our neighborhoods.”
During a Thursday press conference less than 12 hours after the killings, the mayor reiterated once again that the solutions to violent crime in Indianapolis will come from the community.
“Our focus is not on the policies that we will create,” said Councilor Leroy Robinson when asked as he stood by Hogsett’s side if the proposal’s defeat at the hands of his committee and the murders had given him any new insight into the fight against violent crime. “Myself, (Council) President (Vop) Osili and members of the council are focused on the four young lives that were lost last night and not today talking about policy and politics.”
Today, ministers whose congregations worship just minutes away from the scene of the quadruple murders were talking politics and violence and the Democrats’ defeat of the Republican proposal.
“So we come into our churches, and we worship, and we praise God, and we have jubilation, but at the end of the day, outside these walls, we got a problem,” said Pastor James Jackson of Fervent Prayer Church, where he said one of the young victims had once participated in a youth jobs program. “God and the church were significant partners in solving the problems in the city. We asked our local government to partner with us ourselves with other partner ministers and Rick Snyder, we all asked our local government to help us, to look at our problem from a local perspective.
“Partisan politics, in my opinion, is killing our nation. Right here, locally, the help that we offered the city of Indianapolis, proposals that were made, more specifically, Proposal 43, was rejected.
“Mayor Hogsett was at the lead of passionately dismissing the thought of having another group to deal with the problem that we face in our community.”
Jackson addressed the city leaders he blamed for striking down the GOP proposal.
“It may not be the way you think it should be, but at the end of the day, it's not what you want, it's what we need,” said Jackson to an emotional response from the congregation. “Maybe you didn’t hear me. It's not what you want. It's what we need.”
Jackson told worshipers that there had been commitments from approximately 50 ministers throughout Indianapolis to deliver similar messages from the pulpit Sunday.
“You need to understand that your pastor, along with other pastors, along with IMPD, along with other people, is working to strive and solve this murder mess,” he said. “But if we don’t work with the people who know how to solve the problem, then you just throwing money at a situation that will never change.”
At The Father’s House, Dr. Chris Holland, a longtime IMPD supporter who spearheaded a drive to provide trauma triage kits to all metro police officers, echoed Pastor Jackson’s comments.
“When you have issues in the community because the form of government in the community is political, then you have to deal with the political system or the political situation that politicians force you into,” said Holland after his sermon. “We care. We’re out in the streets. We’re talking to people. We’re doing everything we can. So does that mean that because it wasn’t an idea that came from our congregation or from downtown or the police or whatever, that we should shut down every idea because somebody didn’t come up with it?
“You gotta be a listener, and I think some people should listen to the heart of the people that they are over or tasked with the responsibility of watching over and keeping very safe.
“I think you keep pushing people back and back and making them feel like they’re ignorant or it's ridiculous or making statements that make us feel like we have no voice whatsoever, we should just be told what to do and go do it.
“I don’t think all the good ideas come out of the CCB. I think the ideas come out of humans, and there are humans all over this city. About 980,000 of them. And so the ones down in the city-county building are not the only humans in this city. And there are very intelligent and very wise and very caring and loving human beings all over this city.
“At some point, you have to know that you’re not the only one that does care and be willing to listen to what you asked us to set up and establish.”
Holland said he attended the committee meeting where the Republican proposal was defeated and left the room on occasion when council Democrats voiced their opposition in what he termed derogatory fashion.
“We’re not blind to this now. We see this now,” he said. “Oh, by the way, we saw your reactions to when it was brought up and the childishness of some when it was brought up.”
Councilman Brian Mowery, the author of the failed Republican plan, said “We’re not gonna let that stop us,” as he reflected on the Proposal 43 defeat at the hands of the unified Democrat block on the committee.
Mowery said violent crime is a non-partisan issue that is looking for a bi-partisan solution, and that he had received positive feedback from council Democrats who were made aware of Monday’s announcement of a pending Public Safety Summit.
The southside Republican suggested that general summit meetings would be broken up into smaller groups tasked with coming up with solutions and that multiple venue sites have been considered.
Rick Snyder of the Fraternal Order of Police has recently introduced a seven-point plan to address violent crime in Indianapolis.
Snyder indicated he will attend Monday’s Public Safety Summit announcement.