INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) leadership, neighborhood association volunteers and other city officials participated in a public safety walk early Wednesday evening in Broad Ripple.
Officials said the goal behind these walks, which began in 2017, is to build bridges of trust between area residents and the officers serving their communities.
“It’s always been a staple of not only small business, but entertainment,” said Hogsett, when speaking about the Broad Ripple Village. “Frankly sometimes, with entertainment, issues arise.”
Hogsett said this group chose Broad Ripple to understand any ongoing concerns raised by residents and business owners, but to also understand any adverse impacts faced amid ongoing construction.
“We continue to hear our community’s concerns on various public safety matters, obviously on this construction that’s going on right now, and then help our community liaise with the appropriate partners in the city to try to resolve any issues we have and continue to make this a great place to live, work and play,” said Jordan Dillon, executive director of the Broad Ripple Village Association.
“If there are challenges, nobody knows the neighborhood better than the neighbors themselves,” said Hogsett.
The Broad Ripple Village Association said it has a working relationship with police and city officials, and the groups meet to address concerns raised by business owners, residents and others, to work toward solutions.
Particular concerns raised by residents and business owners the group spoke with during the walk Wednesday included concerns over crime, crowds late at night, and impacts of construction, including parking and traffic challenges.
“I think that one of the biggest issues that we’ve seen is the issue with crime, especially in the early morning. There seems to be some issues in regard to people lingering in the parking lot,” said Kady Rodriguez.
Rodriguez lives in Broad Ripple and helps manage a fitness studio in the area.
“I’m not gonna lie to you, I’ve sort of started to avoid Broad Ripple at night because one, there’s either an incident — you’ll see a bunch of police cars or just seems way too congested to the point of it’s like, I don’t even know that I want to try,” she added.
IMPD said it has been working to address concerns from residents through the use of increased patrols on certain nights of the week, including the weekend, and more technology deployed in the area to help officers be proactive in responding to the area before anything happens.
“It’s exciting that we just added some new LPR, license plate reader technology up in Broad Ripple. We have some new public safety cameras as well as B-Link cameras; more business are coming on board with that,” said IMPD Assistant Chief Chris Bailey.
Those cameras allow video to be viewed in real-time by officers at the Incident Analysis Center, and they can appropriate deploy resources to try and prevent anything from happening.
“You’ll see over on Guilford, one of our trailer cameras that’s over there. That’s been invaluable on the weekends when the population for Broad Ripple really changes,” said Bailey. “It changes and it gets bigger.”
Over the summer, Broad Ripple experienced several incidents of violence, including back-to-back weekends in July where shootings left a total of six people injured.
On July 24, four people were injured after a disturbance led to shots fired in the area of Broad Ripple Avenue and Guilford Avenue. One week prior, two people were injured in a shooting in the same area. A man was also critically injured in a July 10 shooting in the 1000 block of Broad Ripple Avenue.
After the July 10 shooting, IMPD’s Emergency Response Group, or ERG, was activated for crowd control.
In response to recent events, IMPD said more business owners are also being receptive to the idea of the Business Link-Indy program, or B-Link. By registering a personal security camera, providing IMPD live stream video access to business security cameras, or by adopting a block in a neighborhood, those who are part of the program are providing location information or live stream access for IMPD’s Incident Analysis Center.
“I just was trying to be a good neighbor and wanted to do my part to make the area a little bit better,” said Jeanne Kaplan, owner of Artifacts Gallery.
She said she was interested in helping do her part and was glad to hear stories of the impact the program has had in other cities.
While Kaplan’s business isn’t open at night on busy weekend nights, and she isn’t particularly concerned about crime or safety, she said she is noticing the impacts on the streets surrounding her business, especially the next day.
“We see evidence of all kinds of stuff that happens at night. So, when we come back in in the morning there is a variety of different things that we can — you know — crazy things had happened,” said Kaplan, who added, “A lot of trash and there is vomit, and things like that, from the nighttime.”
Kaplan said she isn’t only worried about the adverse impact this could have on businesses, but also on people who patron and live in the area.
“People are running, they’re coming out with babies early in the morning and puppies and there’s the Farmers Market, the Monon Trail, and it’s gross,” she said.
Kaplan hopes that addressing challenges, discussing solutions, and speaking with public safety and city officials will continue pushing change in the future.
“I hope that we get through this sort of rough chapter and that more businesses open in Broad Ripple. That’s what I would like to see,” she said.
While some echoed concerns over the crowds and safety, many who interacted with IMPD and city leaders Wednesday acknowledged the ongoing efforts and police presence.
Other key concerns raised by people during the safety walk centered around the impacts of construction.
Rodriguez said they’ve heard from clients who have decided to take classes at other fitness studios within the company, citing parking challenges or traffic. She also shared that she hopes to hear more increased communication from leaders when it comes to parking or traffic changes, so that they can inform their clients and help give them notice.
Hogsett noted that he believes this construction project will be ‘transformative,’ while also recognizing it will impact people in the meantime. Portions of Broad Ripple Avenue are closed off to traffic to allow for current construction.
IMPD has not announced the date of its next public safety walk or the location. Department officials said they encourage more businesses throughout the city to consider joining the B-Link program.