INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - At 9 a.m., some seven hours after a bullet fired haphazardly into an east side home took the life of a one-year-old girl, IMPD Deputy Chief of Operations Chad Knecht booted up his computer in the department’s second floor headquarters at the City County Building and greeted fellow commanders with sobering news during their daily Skype video conference.
“I’m sure you’ve heard the news about the death of the little girl out east,” Knecht began as IMPD commanders were poised to share information and notes about the last 24 hours of crime across the city and what their various districts were prepared to do in the day ahead to make Indianapolis a safer place to live.
The daily briefings are part of IMPD’s evolution to utilize data, combine it with actionable real time intelligence and development of a strategy to empower officers and investigators with guidance on solving crimes, not simply responding after the fact to write a report.
“We need to get out in front of this,” Knecht said several times as the commanders related reports of ATM robberies, vehicle thefts or burglaries. The conference participants responded with commitments to send officers to targeted areas for follow up in the day ahead or to share reports with supervisors on adjoining districts.
An hour later, after their commander issued his report during the morning conference, IMPD Southwest District officers were shown a resident’s surveillance video that captured the image of a burglar in a Camby neighborhood.
By noon, Officer George June was wheeling his patrol car through the unfinished housing development still under construction, looking for anyone or anything out of place.
“The faster we can get the information, the more we can do to proactively stop what’s going on or intervene,” said June. “With this video we can get some sort of idea, and its only a day old, we get some sort of idea who we’re looking for, clothing description, the way they walk, anything the victim can tell us about a vehicle, anything that can point us in a direction that maybe we need to start looking around for them.”
On the eastside, in the 3500 block of Wittfield Street, plywood boards cover the windows and bullet riddled walls where the child was killed and her teenager aunt wounded.
Several IMPD officers and a sergeant huddled under the awning of a Mobile Command Center, protected from the rain, as East District Commander Roger Spurgeon brought them up to speed on what he indicated was likely a targeted shooting.
Sgt. Shane Foley realized short of any specific intelligence shared by detectives at this relatively early stage of the investigation, the best his officers could do was remain vigilant and high profile as they patrolled the community.
“In this situation we wanted to be visible we wanted the community to know that we’re there,” said Foley as he steered his patrol car down potholed streets in a driving rain, one ear tuned to a police radio in the event of a traffic stop or witness that could provide clues to solving the infant’s killing. “We wanted the family to know that we’re there, that we support them.”
While depending on shared intelligence and the skills of veteran investigators to solve the baby’s murder, Knecht also banks on the positive relationships IMPD has been building in the community to result in the tip that will point detectives in the right direction of a solution.
“Its not just based upon that one incident and you have to work through all that. You already have a relationship. You already have trust so that when you go out you can communicate very quickly based upon a foundation of trust and shared knowledge and look at how do we address this issue or concern? What are the ongoing concerns and how can we get our arms around this neighborhood and prevent things like this in the future? And respond to what happened and how do we mitigate that specific incident at the same time?”
Anyone with information on this morning’s murder is urged to call Crimestoppers at (317) 262-TIPS.