IMPD maps city’s social disorder

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- The IMPD Social Disorder Index is another way to describe trouble in the city.

Crunching data to map a picture of police calls in grids as small as 250 feet by 250 feet, IMPD is utilizing statistics to understand where violence and requests for assistance are greatest in order to tailor law enforcement and social agency responses.

Unveiling of the Index and its application comes as IMPD introduces 15 new beats in select parts of the city with the goal of shrinking patrol areas throughout Indianapolis to put officers in closer touch with the communities and people they are sworn to protect.

IMPD North District Beat 25 centers on the Keystone North Apartments in the Meadows area near East 38th Street and North Keystone Avenue.

Police requests for assistance measured in 250 foot by 250 foot square grids find just five residents were responsible for 59 calls for help in the last year.

Officers often report many calls are for disputes that are beyond IMPD’s ability to solve.

“There is a problem with runaways,” said Officer Jim Gillespie. “A lot of times these kids don’t want to stay home or they are not getting along with their parents or the parents just can’t handle them, whatever it might be, they just take off. An officer goes there, they spend an hour taking a report, and they can’t solve the problem right there on the spot, and so then later that runaway comes back, an officer has to come back out, yet another hour where you’re there with the family but you cannot solve that problem on the spot because it’s an ongoing issue.”

Gillespie said that an on-site counselor from Midtown Mental Health Services from IMPD’s North District would inherit the family and calls for assistance and possibly fashion a counseling response.

“Once they identify the issue, connect the family with additional resources to hopefully take care of that so we will not have another repeat call out there.”

In order to determine the level of social disorder and the danger a location presents to its surrounding community, various crimes and calls are rated from one to five, with the highest numbers reserved for murders and shootings and the lowest tallies for arrests and disturbances.

“So when officers are responding to these calls and they have this real time data available to them, they can see if they are responding to a possible volatile situation such as a domestic, and if it’s one that has been called out numerous times, they know this could be escalating,” said Gillespie. “It does give us an opportunity to know that if we are going to be coming in contact with a suspect or subject that police have had several contacts with who is usually armed and then it raises a red flag and lets us know instead of just responding over here with two officers, let’s go ahead and get a third just in case this turns into a violent encounter.”

An analysis of data concludes that two percent of IMPD’s service area containing just 4.7% of the population contains the locations of about 30% of the shootings and killings in the city.

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