INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - During a public safety walk Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Joe Hogsett introduced the city's first two newly appointed peacemakers.
The job of the two peacemakers is to reach out to families in need and help community groups working to reduce violence.
Those peacemakers say they understand the importance of their work, because they've been touched by the city's violent crime first hand.
A large fight erupted into gunfire on Indy's east side almost two weeks ago. 13-year-old Harry Taliefer died after being shot in the back of the neck.
Witnesses claim Taliefer was playing the role of peacekeeper and encouraging people to walk away from the fight when he was killed. Now his cousin ,James Wilson, will work for the city as an official peacemaker.
“I’ve been doing outreach for years, but what really pushed me to do this was seeing friends and family dying. Unnecessary things,” said James Wilson.
The plan is to have James and a second peacemaker, Robert Fry, coordinate with community groups, getting them to work together by offering jobs or education to at risk youth and connecting one on one with those families.
“I want them to understand with the background I have, they can talk to me. It’s not about having the police or mayor involved. If we can reach each other, it changes a lot,” said Wilson.
Fry said he had an uncle and best friend murdered over the years.
James and Robert joined Mayor Hogsett on his latest public safety walk. The mayor hopes the peacemakers will help reduce violent crime across the city.
“The work they will do every single day will change lives and change our city,” said Hogsett.
Mayor Hogsett says while the IMPD will continue to emphasize a return to beat policing, the hope is James and Robert can communicate with would-be offenders who might otherwise be afraid to talk to uniformed officers.
“Luckily for me, I know a lot of people. I can say I’ve been where you are. Let me show you something different,” said Robert Fry.
Both James and Robert will begin their work as peacemakers next week. After that, the city expects to hire two additional peacemakers in the months ahead.