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INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis city leaders say while 2021 has been an extremely violent year thus far, IMPD has put in work to decrease crimes that are nonviolent and to be transparent with the community.

Indianapolis is in the middle of year that has seen 160 homicides to date and is on track to surpass the record set in 2020 if the crime continues at the current rate.

Pandemic’s role

Mayor Joe Hogsett says the pandemic can not be ignored as one of the factors in the increase in violence.

“The pandemic forced a pause on some of our most effective face to face intervention work,” said Hogsett. “The pandemic also dramatically accelerated many of the contributing factors to gun violence: economic insecurity, heightened stress, and frankly, a reduction in services and programming.

There’s been some recent progress when it comes to police and community involvement. Many IMPD officers were able to take part in the National Night Out program this past Tuesday.

“Tuesday was the first time in a long time where our officers were able to get out and meet our community face to face and have those one-on-one interactions that we know help us build our legitimacy, trust in the community and also helps us solve crimes,” said IMPD Asst. Chief Chris Bailey.

When listing some of the reasons for the recent uptick in crimes, IMPD Chief Randal Taylor stated, “despair,” mental health issues, and social media disagreements.

IMPD commitment

Even as crime increases, Taylor reminded the community, “IMPD remains steadfast in our mission to reduce crime.” He listed “despair,” mental health issues, social media disagreements as some of the causes for the uptick.

“Any suggestion that our IMPD aren’t out there working…is just a false narrative,” said Bailey, echoing Taylor’s sentiments of IMPD’s commitment to the community.

Gun violence prevention

While there’s been an increase in both non-fatal shootings and homicides, police say progress has been made in other areas like with IMPD’s body camera program and getting illegally owned guns off the streets.

So far in 2021, IMPD’s Crime Gun Intelligence Center has seized nearly 600 illegally possessed guns.

According to Bailey, that success has led to the center being used as an example for other law enforcement agencies in Indiana.

The key to reducing gun violence is prevention, intervention and transformation, according to Lauren Rodriguez, the director of the Office of Public Health and Safety.

Changing approach

Bailey said IMPD partnered with NYU in October to study police data and statistics. The main takeaway of NYU’s research is the department needs to be more proactive rather than reactive.

According to Bailey, IMPD has become more proactive by changings the hours of when officers are out to match when more violent crime is happening and spending more patrolling time in hot spot areas.

Meanwhile, several types of non-violent crimes have seen a decrease including burglaries, robberies, and aggravated assaults. There has been a slight in increase in property damage crimes like arson and vehicle thefts.

Moving forward, IMPD says it plans to hire a data officer to continue to deliver and focus on data-based numbers that can assist in reducing violence.

Leaders are hopeful more headway can be made in reducing crime with the completion of the Community Justice Campus, where much of the focus will be on treatment over incarceration for non-violent offenders.

Mayor Hogsett says further plans for public safety and the budget will be presented Monday evening at the City-County council meeting as part of the 2022 fiscal package.

The Indianapolis Fraternal of Police released this statement following the leaders’ announcement:

“Our Policing Professionals reviewed the Mayor’s summary of his administration’s latest efforts to combat violence in Indianapolis.

Unfortunately, there was still No New Plan clearly laid out. Instead, the focus was on the same tired talking points.

However, the Mayor did note his support for a Review/Analysis of the Overall Outcomes, Court practices and Prosecutorial decisions within our Marion County Criminal Justice System.

Our Indy FOP calls upon the Mayor (as the Chief Executive of our Community) to Immediately Convene such a Review and Analysis.

Furthermore, we are disillusioned that as our City has experienced nearly 700 people shot, 145 stabbed with 161 killed so far this year: the Mayor said “Indianapolis is an extraordinarily safe city.”

To say this on the heels of the outcry of victims, families and business owners…and after our Police Officers even publicly declared Indy a ‘City in Crisis’ is dismaying to say the least.

We must deal in the realm of reality before we can make improvements and move forward.

In the meantime, we will continue to speak out for victims of criminal violence, their families, business owners and our officers who faithfully continue to stand the line.”