INDIANAPOLIS — With 245 homicides, 2020 was a record year for killings in Indianapolis.
As of this afternoon, the city is only 15 homicides away from matching that unprecedented total with just over two months left in the year.
A year ago today, Indianapolis sat on the verge of recording its 200th homicide.
This year, the city hit that mark Oct. 1.
October 2020 was the most murderous month in the city’s history with 30 killings.
Today, October 2021 has recorded 29 homicides.
Mayor Joe Hogsett visited the Finish Line Boys & Girls Club on North Post Road in the far east side to see how a $100,000 community anti-violence grant is being used to stop the killings in Indianapolis.
“We want to make sure we’re doing everything we can as a city in putting resources and the opportunity to have people say, ‘No,’ to bad decisions and criminal activity before it happens, before a gun is pulled, before a gun is shot,” said Hogsett after sitting in a meeting with participants in the PIVOT program which is intended to train young adults for employment. “We have as a city made an unprecedented commitment to crime prevention, crime reduction, crime interruption, crime avoidance.”
Last week the City-County Council passed Hogsett’s 2022 budget with additional tens of millions of dollars dedicated to public safety and community anti-violence spending.
“We’re adding cops, we’re adding violence interrupters,” said Hogsett. “It’s difficult to prove a negative, but we have reason to believe that our interrupters have already successfully interrupted 600 what would have been likely acts of violence.”
Jalen Thornton could have utilized the talents of a violence interrupter as he walked through a parking lot at 38th Street and Mitthoefer Road one morning after midnight just a year ago.
“This is a tracheotomy, I was on life support for three weeks,” said Thornton, pointing to a scar on his throat. “I guess they tried to rob me. All I had was an iPhone and I tried to run for safety and I got shot in my head.”
Thornton still exhibits the impact of his injuries.
He attended the PIVOT session witnessed by the mayor in order to learn jobs skills.
“I’m at the age where it’s time for me to get serious, find a career, and I’m just trying to find a career,” said the 21-year-old North Central High School graduate. “I actually lost my mother when I was five years old. She was killed in front of me. I mean, it’s been tough, it’s rough here in Indianapolis.”
Director of Re-Engagement Erik Davenport said he’s lost eleven PIVOT Center students to gun violence in the last three years.
“It is a desperate time, I think, for young people across America,” he said. “Our young men are not communicating. As soon as they get upset, they react. That’s the missing piece, so our kids are not being taught to communicate in a normal way.
“I think our rate will again be high next year if my estimates are right,” said Davenport who expects the homicide numbers to hold steady at record highs through the winter. “I say to you, you and I will be in ’23 before we see results. ’22 will be a rough year. People are still in pandemic mode, we’re going into wintertime right now which means we’re back in that enclosed environment so I suspect crime will be at a peak again until June.”
For young people like Jalen Thornton, next June may be too late.
“I wouldn’t say put yourself in our shoes, but kind of like try to see if you can relate to where we come from because there’s really nothing to do. I feel like the youth is dying because there’s nothing to do. We gotta save it.”