INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Neighbors on the near west side and near north side tell CBS4 there is no room for criminals and their activity in their neighborhoods. Haughville is one community working with an IMPD Community Relations Unit to improve their neighborhood.
"All of the residents in this area, we come together as one, and we talk about the things going on in this area, and we come up with a plan to stop everything that has been going on around here," James Ward explained.
Ward is an advocate for the Haughville community and IMPD Southwest District's Crime Fighter of the Year. He leads the Haughville Strong Neighborhood Association and recently helped the Haughville Crime Watch Group start up again.
"My best piece of advice is to start knocking on doors," Ward encouraged. "Knocking on doors is one of the most important things."
Haughville is situated in Indy's near west side. It runs from 10th Street to White River Parkway to Michigan Street and up Tibbs Avenue. Back in February in this area, federal prosecutors put dozens of drug dealers behind bars in busts coined "Operation: Garage Band."
According to the crime reports database, there were more reports of all crimes in the last 10 days than the final days of February into March when the raids happened. Officer Iris Farries, a community resource officer for the southwest district, said more calls to 911 or the non-emergency number is not always a bad sign.
"When you see something, say something. We can get out and see where those 911 calls are coming from and try to mitigate and be proactive," Farries said.
At the corner of Haugh and Walnut Streets sits a large blue building. Inside is the "Blue Store," which is full of candy, and a beacon of hope for the community.
"If something happens out here, somebody or that blue building is going to know about it," Ward promised.
Ward also helps operate the West Side Community Ministries next door to the store. It offers a wide-range of resources to the people living in the Haughville neighborhood including employment training, transportation and even mental health help.
"These are things that people have never done nothing about," Ward said. "It's generational and we're trying to take care of that right now."
IMPD officers said they also make a point to police with neighbors instead of at them. The officers credit going door-to-door and attending their neighborhood watch meetings as the reason they are earning people's trust.
"If we don't know, then we can't act on those things," Officer Farries said. Officer Farries is one of two officers on the district's community relations unit. It also includes a civilian, a sergeant and a lieutenant.
"Number one is to come together," Ward said. "We have to get one location where we sit down, where we talk about things. Number two, get with the police department, and number three, find out what resources are in this area."
North of Haughville on the city's near north side, Highland Vicinity is thankful their work to turn their community around is paying off. They just celebrated at least three years of no homicides in the community which goes from 30th Street to I65 to Fall Creek to Meridian Street.
Northwest District Commander Lorenzo Lewis gives credit to the neighbors there and the Indy TenPoint Coalition.
"We want people in the community to be empowered, to control what goes on in their community and have a voice in what happens in their community," Commander Lewis said.
Officers and neighborhood advocates alike encourage people to get involved with their neighborhood watch groups, or start one. You can find more information about how to do that on www.indy.gov.