INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. ( March 12, 2015) - For months, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and other city officials have claimed more police are not the only answer to cutting crime. They say community involvement is key, as well.
Thursday, the Department of Public Safety held the last of the first round of what they call community conversations in six high crime areas of the city.
Public Safety Director Troy Riggs touted this data-driven, analytical approach to hopefully easing crime in Indianapolis. He said they've seeing very early results, with homicides trending down city-wide by 40%, but he advises it's far too early to hang your hat on that.
On a Thursday afternoon, after school, we found teens playing ball at Community Alliance of the Far Eastside. They're off the streets and away from crime.
It's an approach city leaders want to see happening more.
"Anything we can do to keep them out of trouble," said Brishon Bond, Youth Programs Director at CARE.
And trouble for this center hit close to home in January. Just a few streets over, investigators said 17-year-old Dino Thompson gunned down 13-year-old Ashton Harting, a child who used to come to CARE regularly.
"He was here every day. In fact, he was here on that Thursday prior to his death on that Saturday," said Bond.
42nd and Post is one of the city's six focus areas, first announced back in October. They are streets that show signs of neglect, rife with poverty, crime, and mental illness, Riggs said.
"There is a long-term plan, but the key is we have to work together," he said.
Thursday night at Mt. Carmel Church off E. 42nd Street, the Department of Public Safety held their community conversation for residents.
Some said they know the streets aren't safe, and the data isn't anything new. They questioned if anything would ever change.
Riggs said presenting the data is key to securing grant money, even at the federal level. And local resources are popping up, too. It's help that could provide needed services, he said.
"There's millions of dollars that people are talking about utilizing now, that wasn't on the table when we started talking about this in January," said Riggs.
But it's not all about the money. Cutting crime comes down to changing priorities, some said.
And as IMPD officer Larry Adkins plays ball with students Thursday afternoon, he knows that his job is to build relationships. He's part of the department's community affairs unit.
"This is an effort for our department to be hands on, interactive," he said.
The Department of Public Safety said all the initial meetings have taken place in the six focus areas. They will start revisiting each in the future to examine in detail which issues need to be worked on.
DPS said the city's code enforcement has quickly stepped up their response in focus areas, hoping to work to rid the city of some blight.