INDIANAPOLIS — The City of Indianapolis saw a violent start to the month of October, with 11 people killed in shootings in the first seven days of the month.

As many seek solutions, groups like the Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition are putting boots on the ground as part of efforts to reduce and prevent crime, address the root causes of it, and work to stop the cycle of violence and they’re seeing results.

“When you see 11 people killed in seven days, that’s very troubling,” said Rev. Charles Harrison with the Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition. “October has been a deadly month for the city over the last two years. We’ve had 30 plus homicides and it seems like in 2022 we’re on that same pace, so hopefully we can try to curb that and not end up with 30 plus homicides in 2022.”

IMPD said homicides are down this year compared to the same time last year, however, the numbers remain significantly higher than any other year before 2020.

Advocates believe the greatest way to make progress toward solutions is by working together as a community with one goal.

“I know everybody has their own mission; everybody has their own vision, but we should also have one common goal, and that one common goal is to first of all stop crime, first of all stop the violence that is happening out here and open up to these young men and let them know hey look, we’ve been where you are, we’ve been through what you’re going through, but if there is a way out and if we don’t tell them that then they’re in trouble,” said Leroy Smith, east side team lead for Indy Ten Point.

On Friday night, Indy Ten Point teamed up with the Fort Wayne UNITED Ten Point Coalition to patrol an area of the far east side from 38th Street to 42nd Street between N. Mitthoefer Road and German Church Road.

“Coming down here, training with them and collaborating with the works that we’ve done in Fort Wayne is just what we’re here for — to learn, expand our ideas and sharpen our model to make it better,” said Lewis King, coordinator for Fort Wayne UNITED Ten Point.

“What we’re trying to do is train other cities that are doing a similar kind of model on the ground as to what works and what doesn’t work, what’s been successful for us and what hasn’t been successful and then how do you handle yourself in a very difficult situation, where sometimes you come to a scene and it’s a crisis. People are very emotional and there’s a lot of anger and frustration, particularly if a loved one has been killed,” said Harrison.

The groups discussed how you handle those situations and how to best work with law enforcement.

“It’s so you can help minister the victim’s family, also keep the scene peaceful, but also yet educate the public as to what’s going on with law enforcement. That’s the kind of training we’re doing tonight to help them as they deal with similar situations in their city,” said Harrison.

The two groups have followed a similar model while working to intervene and end the violence among young men ages 12 to 24 years old.

“We’ve had a lot of success. Two times in the area that we patrol since February 2020, they’ve gone 365 days without a homicide,” said Harrison.

“We’ve seen with this model a drastic reduction of crime in our area. We started in 2018 and when we started there we picked this area for Ten Point because we saw our rates, our homicide numbers were going up and saw this was the area we should be in,” said Lewis. “Today we’ve seen a drastic reduction in all areas and I believe it’s through the power of presence, you know, our initiative, going after African American males.”

Lewis said what they’ve found is that their involvement in the community has not only reduced crime numbers and helped benefit young men, but also their families.

On Friday night, Lewis and 13 others with Indy Ten Point’s northeast counterpart traveled to the city to talk about their efforts and response to situations that may be difficult, including the support they’re providing in the aftermath of violent crimes in the cities the two patrol.

Both groups agree that the best way to get results and make a difference in impacting rates of crime in areas like 38th and Mitthoefer, a hot spot, which Indy Ten Point said has now gone more than a year without a homicide, people need to band together and understand that sometimes all it takes is putting boots on the ground to connect with neighbors.

“We come out here and talk with people. We mentor people,” said Smith. “We’re boots on the ground to encourage people to stay strong, to not get into it with each other and have the violence we have in our city.”

Smith, one of the Indy Ten Point Coalition’s OGs said he’s from the area on the far east side he now helps patrol several days a week.

“Most of them, at one point in their life, was involved in criminal activity. Several of them went to prison. They came out, they turned their life around,” said Harrison. “Several of them went to prison. They went to prison, turned their life around. Several of them really have street cred. They’re able to connect to individuals most likely to be the victims or perpetrators of violent crime.”

Smith said it’s been a blessing to give back to his community through his efforts with the antiviolence initiative.

“I’m from around here, where I used to be out here and being trouble and in my heart, I wanted to give back something. So, by me being out here, I’m giving back to my community and letting them know that we love and care about them, giving them some hope,” said Smith.

He added, “we come and encourage them and give them the hope, that way they don’t need to pick up a gun to go against controversy. They don’t have to pick up a gun to hurt one another. We can always talk things through and try to help the best that we can.”

Smith said their work allows them to be on foot, working to talk to members of the community, who often recognize them due to how often they’re out there.

According to the initiative, Ten Point’s OGs spend a lot of time in conversations and working with individuals who may be heading on the track. By doing so, Harrison said the group is able to help people deal with conflict in nonviolent ways.

“Rather than pulling out of the knife or gun trying to settle their beef,” said Harrison. “When they hear there’s beef between individuals or groups, they’re immediately trying to contact them so they can help settle the conflicts before it leads to violence.”

Ten Point patrols the area of the far east side they were on Friday about five to six times each week, leaders said.

“I know how it is to be out here. I know how it is to be in trouble. A lot of these guys who are out here doing things now, they don’t have an adult male directing them to say don’t go this way, go this way,” said Smith. “I always learned for every choice there’s a consequence. We’re trying to help choices be better in our neighborhood. Because of it, people are clinging to us. They know who we are. They thank us all the time for being out here.”

Harrison said, neighborhoods like this one have seen change because of the efforts of people being present and willing to help where needed. He also cited other efforts across the city from groups like the North Shadeland Alliance and Bean Creek Neighborhood Association who are working in their respective neighborhoods and also seeing significant results.

“Most people feel like there’s nothing they can really do about the violence or they’re afraid to step out because of fear. I would say to them, there is no area of the city that cannot be helped to reduce violence. I don’t care how bad it seems, working with law enforcement and the city and other neighborhood groups, together you can reduce the violence in that neighborhood,” said Harrison.

He recommends people wanting to get involved reach out to the city, IMPD or groups like theirs to learn how to do effective street engagement that helps curb the cycle of violence.

“If we do it citywide, we’re going to see positive results in every area of the city,” Harrison added.

“The more we do it collectively the better results we have,” said Smith. “I believe in unifying and in unity, we can get this done together.”