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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– In the face of Republican criticism about his, “lack of action in fighting our violent crime epidemic,” Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett Wednesday presided over the announcement of $300,000 in grants to five organizations with proposed programs to promote public safety and community enhancement.

The appropriations are in addition to the more than $2 million in annual community violence reduction grants the city already makes available through the Central Indiana Community Foundation, which will be awarded next month as the mayor says such spending has increased 25 percent during his two years in office.

This most recent round of grants coincides with Hogsett’s establishment of a $300,000 witness relocation fund to protect families and witnesses involved in violent crime and the hiring of a community violence reduction coordinator and two peacemakers who are assigned to working with residents and community groups located in crisis areas.

Recipients of the current round of $60,000 grants include the Community Action Center, The Martin Luther King Community Center, Mothers Against Violence and Flanner House, the Martin Christian Center and the Ross Foundation.

“I would be able to hire my own people, residents from this community, who live and thrive on the 42nd and Post Road area who want to make a difference, who want to change but don’t have the time or finances to do it,” said Derris Ross who operated a shoestring program in the last year committed to holding community events which provided access to resources for residents. “Once we got them there, we were able to address a lot of the barriers they had. These are the people whose need of assistance are the ones who probably are directly impacted by the systemic change of this area the most.”

Ross said this grant would allow his foundation to provide job placement and mentoring services, teach conflict resolution and become advocates for marginalized residents who are frustrated by poverty or legal and criminal justice barriers from accessing services.

The Flanner House, located at 2424 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Street and Mothers Against Violence received a grant to provide grief counseling and outreach to victims of violence.

Flanner House is located in an adjacent neighborhood to that of Barnes United Methodist Church whose pastor, Rev. Charles Harrison, the founder of the Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition, has been critical of the mayor and CICF for turning down Ten Point grant requests since May of 2017 when the group last received $50,000 from the Indianapolis Foundation to hire an executive director.

State Senator Jim Merritt of Indianapolis, Marion County Republican Party Chairman, issued a statement this week in which he referred to the current pace of homicides in the city which, if left unchecked, would exceed last year’s record total.

“Upon taking office, Mayor Joe Hogsett said regarding crime, ‘the proof is in the pudding, it will be in the performance.’ I am sad to say that the performance has gotten worse.

“The time for talk is over and I call upon Mayor Hogsett to focus on crime and not publicity,” he said.

During a briefing with reporters last week, Hogsett said his proposed 2019 budget, slated to be introduced to the city county council later this month, would include an increase in public safety spending.