INDIANAPOLIS — Mayor Joe Hogsett wore his former lifeguard gear with a whistle around his neck to announce a weekend of free swimming for Indianapolis residents at five of the city’s public parks pools.
Less than a third of the city pools are open after a week of heat indexes over 100 degrees.
“We have a total of 17,” said Indy Parks Director Phyllis Boyd. “We are trying to get two more on line very quickly. Part of that is staffing and part of that is mechanicals.”
The mayor was on hand to encourage young people to apply for city parks jobs.
Providing safe recreational alternatives for Indy youth is a priority for the city and local leaders as seven of this year’s nearly 100 homicide victims were juveniles killed by gun violence.
“Everybody got guns. They all got guns,” said Anthoney Hampton, a volunteer at the Brightwood Community Center. “The verbal arguments lead to murder, so, it’s either you have a weapon on you and be ready to use a weapon or be ready for someone to plan your funeral.”
Homicides and non-fatal shootings through June 10 are off this year compared to 2021’s record setting pace.
Homicides are down roughly 17%,
Non-fatal shooting incidents are down 14.7% while the number of non-fatal shooting victims has been reduced 13.3%.
On May 30, Xavier Fairley, 17, was shot to death at a southside apartment complex in an unsolved killing.
Raniya Lee, 19, was arrested for her role in a shooting outside of a party on Indianapolis’ eastside this past weekend in which five people were injured.
Lee was one of them.
Last weekend IMPD detectives arrested six people, all of them 20-years-old or younger, for gun possession all across the city.
“This is so sad that our kids are getting conditioned to hearing this and they have to keep going,” said Shonna Majors, Director at the Brightwood Community Center.”They are closely affiliated with guns and these people who are doing these things in the community and all the kids kind of know who’s doing what out here in the streets and their network is a lot faster than ours in coming up with information.”
Thursday afternoon, in Perry Park within a couple hundred feet of a packed public pool, IMPD responded to a report of shots fired and found the ground littered with 19 shell casings.
“I am grateful, even in light of yesterday’s incident, nobody was hurt,” said the mayor. “Nobody was shot, and our park rangers and our IMPD officers prioritize our parks systems because they know there’s going to be a lot of people gathering there.
“If we can provide more patrols and security we will, we’ve got enough money to do that.”
An IMPD officer sat watch in his patrol car at the Perry Park pool today.
“We do need 200 additional IMPD officers,” said Hogsett. “I would hire them today if I had 200 qualified applicants, so it’s not a question of not having enough law enforcement to make sure we stay in safe places. The question is now just like lifeguards: we need more IMPD officers and we need more park rangers.”
Hampton holds a basketball league at the former Forest Manor Middle School at 32nd and Euclid every Friday night.
100 youngsters are expected to play tonight.
Hampton has spent years getting to know Indianapolis teens either inside the Marion County Juvenile Detention Center or on the basketball courts or in the neighborhoods of the city.
“These kids aren’t coming out intentionally to kill but they don’t know how to deal with conflict resolution so one embarrassing moment or one disrespectful comment can easily lead to guns being shot,” he said. “The older teenagers, 18, 19, they been carrying guns most of them, a lot of them, not all of them, carrying guns since they were fourteen. So now they’re 18 so they’re four or five years experienced.”