INDIANAPOLIS — Violent shootings continue erupting in our city – Friday morning a 15-year-old girl was shot on the near east side while simply sitting on her porch – she is in critical condition.
The violent summer has city leaders wracking their brains, searching for ideas to stop the shootings and intervene before the trigger is pulled.
The Indy Public Safety Foundation has recruited more than 30 violence interrupter fellows who respond to threatening social media posts and physical acts of aggression. They say in the last seven months they’ve interrupted 207 conflicts that could have turned into violence – helping make what has been a violent summer, safer.
‘So that could be just an argument that’s occurring. That could be all the way up to an active fight that’s being interrupted,” Executive Director of Indy Public Safety Foundation Dane Nutty said. “This is what makes it really remarkable, they’ll just roll up, show up at their houses, show up wherever they’re at, they’ll call them and intervene.”
The Indy Public Safety Foundation is working hard to end the violence through interruption and they’re not alone.
“They use their relationships they have in the neighborhoods they serve, the intelligence they receive whether that’s just our through doing community events or engaging with the community and then a lot of times their responding directly. We’ve been to 76 homicide shooting scenes in the seven months of operation and we simply intervene, help deescalate and disrupt that cycle of violence,” Nutty said. “What I do think it shows is this collaboration nature that we’ve developed throughout the entire city that everybody’s just trying put on their shoes and figuring out how to attack the problem.”
Lacing up their shoes at the Office of Public Health and Safety’s Safe Summer event, like 18-year-old Donovan Scott.
“Everybody can come here, stay safe, stay out of the way, play basketball and just… be cool,” Scott said. “Keep your head on straight and stay out of the way of danger.”
At 18-years-old, there’s plenty of other things Scott could be doing on a Friday night in Indianapolis, but instead, he’s at Bethel Park’s Gymnasium, playing basketball with his friends.
“We’re staying out of the way – like, not involving ourselves in anything that could get us harmed. Really. Like parties and extra stuff… I don’t even go to parties anymore cause a lot of stuff be going on. You really gotta be aware of your surroundings. Know where you at. And know what’s going on to really prevent yourself from being in that situation,” Scott said. “Would you rather be at a party or be here and not risking your life?”
It’s a collaborative effort, keeping the city’s youth safe, through the safe summer events parents like Carron Stephens don’t have to worry about their children.
“Teenagers and even people can get mixed up in peer pressure just hanging out, wanna go here, wanna go there, but when he’s playing… then I’m not worried,” Stephens said. “Some people, their parents don’t come but for me personally it’s just very important that he knows that I’m there and I’m there to cheer him on.”
She just wishes more people cared about their children like she does.
“It breaks my heart. It hurts my heart to the core to see this violence play out every day and I’m not even the parent of those kids that have been killed,” Stephens said. “We ask ourselves, what could we have done differently, and sometimes there’s really no good answer.”
The Public Safety Foundation for one does care.
“We’re trying to figure out every potential opportunity we can get in front of a young person, a family member, a community member whether that’s on Friday and Saturday nights at one of the three parks for safe summer, whether that’s on the scene of a homicide or shooting,” Nutty said. “We are seeing buy-in from the community, these initiatives can’t just be one and done. They have to be long-term, sustainable programs so I think that’s what we’re seeing for sure. there is that huge urgency that we have to do something.