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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 14, 2016)– Gunfire welcomed spring to downtown Indianapolis this past weekend and IMPD commanders are dedicated to keeping the city’s core safe from violence even if there is no way to stamp out all misbehavior by unsupervised young people.

“Gunshots were fired downtown after the mall closed,” read a sergeant’s report from last Saturday night, “as the young juveniles were making their way to the city bus stops.”

Bullets flew at the corner of Maryland Street and Capitol Avenue. A large group of teens ran toward Washington Street and the direction of IndyGo stops at the statehouse and federal courthouse. Police found a gun tossed in the mulch near the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

“And of course they come from the neighborhoods, there’s a conflict in the neighborhood,” said IMPD Commander Chad Knecht. “If the conflict shows up here, there can be a disagreement and dispersion. I think that’s what happened this weekend.”

Knecht was been the department’s downtown boss for two months. Before assuming command, Knecht spent years responding to reports of large crowds and trouble on Saturday nights when Circle Centre  closed its doors. He said there are no new tricks to stopping youth from acting out downtown, only better ways to knit together a police and community response to head off violence.

“You’re going to be caught if you come into downtown Indianapolis and commit acts of violence,” said Knecht.  “You’re not going to see all of our cameras that are being monitored in our Real Time Crime and Data Center. You’re not going to see our undercover officers and those resources we have on bicycles and foot patrols so you’re going to see portions and you’re not going to see portions.”

Analysts routinely comb social media to determine if school or neighborhood disputes have the potential to boil over on weekends.

Many teens ride buses to downtown from neighborhoods late on Saturday afternoons to congregate at Circle Centre Mall and along the canal only to flee when trouble breaks out and then board buses for their rides home by ten p.m.

“With IndyGo we’re working with those bus routes” said Knecht. “We’re having officers engaging the riders on the bus before they even get on the bus, not only when they get off the bus in Indianapolis but before they get on the bus we’re setting the tone for that we want downtown to be safe, ‘This is acceptable behavior. This is unacceptable behavior.’ We have officers at the bus stops who greet them when they get off.”

IMPD recently designated four entertainment districts, including two downtown, for added foot patrols and enforcement to maintain the safety of visitors and residents.

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