‘Violence is surging’: Faith leaders, FOP call on city officials to hold emergency meeting

Indianapolis Area Crime

INDIANAPOLIS — With Indianapolis on a record setting pace for murders this year, community leaders call for emergency action by mayor Joe Hogsett.

“The violence is out of control,” said Reverend Harrison who called on Mayor Joe Hogsett to hold an emergency public safety meeting between The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD), the FOP, judges, prosecutors, community clergy and anti-violence groups.

“We can not wait any longer, we must address the violence now,” Reverend Harrison.

The press conference comes amid a spike in homicides in the first 130 days of 2021.

“These are our residents and our neighbors that are losing their lives and being affected by the violence.  So we call on the mayor to convene a meeting.  If he doesn’t do it today, let’s do it tomorrow,” said Rick Snyder.

So far in 2021 there have been 93 homicides through May 14th.  That is drastically higher compared to the last several years on the same date.

Property crimes and aggravated assaults are on the rise, Snyder said, and 450 Indianapolis residents were shot or stabbed in 130 days. 

In 2020 there were 69 homicides at the same time, with 48 homicides in 2019, 50 in 2018 and 53 in 2017.

“Indy can’t wait.  Violence is surging within the surge.  It’s to levels we’ve never seen before,” said Snyder.

“There are a lot of issues driving the violence and it’s complex.  That’s why it’s going to take a village to come together,” said reverend Charles Harrison.

The numbers aren’t just abstract, they represent lives and birthdays lost, like 19-year-old Madison Day.

“Her birthday is May 17th.   I miss my baby a lot,” said Monica Sanders.

Monica’s daughter Madison died in a double homicide last year on Audubon road.   Police ruled the case a self-defense killing following a dispute over a parking spot.   That fight that ended the lives of Day and 40-year-old David Taylor Jr.

Monica says her daughter would have turned 21 in 3 days and had big plans for her birthday that will never happen.

“She wanted to go to Vegas for her birthday and now she’s not here and I’m upset,” said Sanders.  “If we all worked together, the world would be a better place, instead of being against each other.”

While applauding Mayor Hogsett for the city’s commitment to continue the hiring of officers, Snyder cited “the gateway to the criminal justice system” as the main problem. He said officers are making the arrests, but the system including the prosecutor’s office offers up “sweetheart plea deals, with little or no jail time” and the city’s pre-trial release program. 

Reverend Harrison added that “catch and release of our most violent and repeat felons” creates the biggest issues for those on the ground. He said residents are too afraid to come forward because they do not think the system will protect them.

No other city in the United States has more electronic GPS monitoring units than Indianapolis, according to Snyder. He said 4000 people a day wear a bracelet with 100 monitors being cut off a month. 

Snyder believes these numbers of pre-trial and post-conviction monitors mean that known violent offenders are allowed to roam the streets and are a major contributor to the “revolving door” problem.

“That is preventable,” he said. “We need to have true accountability for repeat convicted violent offenders.”

While acknowledging the mental health crisis, education issues, poverty and the global pandemic, Synder echoed Reverend Harrison’s call for an emergency public safety meeting: “Police are doing everything they can do. Indy can’t wait. Violence is surging, it’s to levels we’ve never seen before.”

“It’s very complex and multi-layered,” said Reverend Harrison. “We can’t have a silver bullet approach. It’s going to take the village to come together.”

Spokesperson for City of Indianapolis Mark Bode issued the following response to today’s press conference:

For the last five years, Mayor Hogsett has made public safety a top priority, working to build trust between the community and law enforcement and address violent crime in Marion County.  

The City continues to work with community stakeholders to improve our violence reduction efforts — in 2021 alone we will invest $4.6 million in neighborhood-based violence interventions, add two new recruit classes of IMPD officers, and significantly expand our community violence intervention team. 

It’s clear that ongoing communication will be key — and that’s why Mayor Hogsett is committed to continued dialogue with law enforcement partners, grassroots organizations, and neighborhood groups in order to address this critical issue. 

Mark Bode, Director of Communications, City of Indianapolis

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