Council GOP to introduce crime commission

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — On Monday night, City-County Council Republicans will unveil their plans for a 15-member Indianapolis Commission on Violent Crime.

Chief Sponsor Brian Mowery told CBS4 News he already has a commitment from Democratic council leadership to support the proposal.

Proposal 43 calls for a commission made up of council members, state lawmakers, law enforcement, non-profit professionals, citizens and judges to study the city’s current anti-violence approach and plot a path forward.

“We want to have a comprehensive study on the city’s criminal justice strategy as well as its outcome,” said co-sponsor Paul Annee, Jr., a Republican representing the south side. “We know that there are a lot of things that our city is doing. Frankly, there are a lot of things that aren’t working.”

Annee pointed to 2019 IMPD statistics that showed while homicides dropped slightly, the number of non-fatal shootings and their victims edged up. “The African American community makes up 30% of our city’s population yet up to 75% of its murder victims,” said Annee. “There is something seriously wrong, it’s a major failure on city leadership’s part, and we want to do a study commission to find out frankly what’s going on.”

Four days after council Republicans announced their plans, Democrat Leroy Robinson announced his Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee would beef up its examination of violence in Indianapolis. “Public safety is, and has been, the first priority of this Council,” Robinson was quoted in a release that promised more frequent updates by police, prosecutors, judges and other criminal justice partners to his committee, changes in the way the city prioritizes grants for community groups engaged in the battle against violent crime, the development of public safety plans for each council district, and studies of criminal justice inequities.

On Friday, Mayor Joe Hogsett will host a meeting with local, state, and federal partners to assess Indianapolis’ approach to fighting violent crime and identify available funds to support such programs. “Its kind of a conclave of law enforcement professionals talking about what we’re doing in the city, what’s working, what’s not working, how we can collaborate better,” said Hogsett. “Federal funding and federal grant moneys coming from Washington DC for public safety assistance is very important. At the end of the day, Marion County taxpayers deserve to get a little money that they send to Washington in their federal taxes back into their communities to make their neighborhoods safe.”

Annee said the proposed commission is an acknowledgement that violent crime is a countywide problem in need of a countywide solution. “We have the battle of the fear of crime and of crime, and so we have that constant battle,” he said, “and in Perry Township, the fear of crime is really taking over, particularly in my district we feel that there is a creep of crime coming in from other parts of the city, and so I think all of our communities, particularly on the south side, are ready to say, ‘Lets take care of this before it is a total issue here.’”

Two years ago this month, five murders rocked the community of 4200 Post Road on the city’s northeast side. A crackdown by IMPD has reduced the level violence there while crime has moved into adjoining parts of the city.

Last fall the son of Robert Banks, Jr. was shot to death by a robber breaking into his home in the 3500 block of Priscilla Court, not far from East 38th Street and Arlington Avenue. Robert Banks, III, killed his attacker in the gun battle.\

“The eastside is kind of treacherous right now,” said Banks as he surveyed the neighborhood where he’s lived for 56 years, “and I know the police department they know that its kind of treacherous out on the east side. Usually it be out on Post Road. Now it comes up here a little bit like Arlington and Emerson.”

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