INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - On Monday night, the city-county council introduced a proposal that would fund two more peacemakers, food assistance programs and additional neighborhood outreach. The proposal calls for the allocation of $900,000. The Office of Public Health and Safety requested an additional appropriation of $120,000 for two peacemakers and $780,000 for various food assistance programs, as well as, technical assistance for continued neighborhood outreach.
City leaders, including Mayor Joe Hogsett, believe this money for public safety is worth every penny.
Right now, four peacemakers work with at-risk teens so they stay safe and out of jail. The first ones were hired last summer. They are assigned to different areas of the city to bring resources directly to youth.
Two weeks ago, a 15-year-old boy was shot in the torso on the city's east side. Police do not believe it was random. It's violence such as this that brought Robert Fry out to a northwest side neighborhood on Tuesday.
"It takes everyone in the community around Indianapolis to help save these young lives," said Fry.
He works to connect with teens before they become a victim or suspect of gun violence. He said they get referrals from the community and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.
"We find out what is going on in their neighborhoods or within their household that makes them susceptible to violence," he said.
On Tuesday, Mayor Hogsett thanked the council's support on investments to reduce crime in the city.
"Cities that have lowered their public safety and aggravated assault numbers are city’s that have invested in crime reduction crime prevention and crime intervention," he said.
Shonna Majors, the Director of Community Violence Reduction, said they are still working out the details on these two peacemaker positions. She said they will definitely be working with youth.
"Address more areas in the city, especially during the summer months, as things start to heat up we definitely want to be out and about a little more," she said.
Adding officers is not the only answer for Fry. He lost friends and relatives to gun violence. Now, he wants to see his team grow so they can help keep other families out of harm's way.
If funding is approved, there is no timeline right now on when the peacemakers will be hired. Mayor Hogsett hopes they can start before the year is over.