IMPD officers use east side food program to help feed man who hadn’t eaten in days

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Using food as a tool to cut down on crime is the idea behind a pilot program being tested on Indy’s east side.

Leaders with IMPD have stressed for years the need to increase community engagement and outreach as a way to increase public safety.

This week, officers used the program to help a man on Euclid Ave. who hadn’t eaten in days. His pantry is now stocked with food.

“I was in shock because I have never seen police do that,” said the man who asked not to be identified.

That man called 211 this week because he hadn’t eaten in two days. Living on a fixed income with a disability, he was surprised when police showed up to his home offering assistance.

“I was kind of overwhelmed because I’d never seen police help like that,” said the man.

“This is the way I think policing needs to be done. Engaging the community and finding what is causing crisis in their life and then finding ways to remedy that so they can have a better quality of life,” said IMPD officer Adam Perkins.

Perkins, who does outreach work for IMPD and the nearby Shepherd Community Center, is one of the officers who helped in this case, but he wasn’t alone.

Starting in March, IMPD partnered with Gleaners to fill 160 bags of food. As part of the Care Bag Program, east district officers keep the food in their squad cars to help those in need.

“We’re human beings. We care. We care about what happens in our community,” said IMPD east district commander Roger Spurgeon. “It gives us one more way to bridge gaps between police and the community.”

“That’s the name of the game really is to break down walls between community and police,” said Perkins.

Aside from a suitcase and oxygen tank, the man’s home remains pretty bare, but Officer Perkins is now working to get him some furniture. That outreach has forever changed the way the man views police.

“For them to reach out and help me with groceries, it showed me a lot about what police are trying to do for the community,” said the man. “They showed me a lot that they’re here to help.”

After east district, officers finish dispensing all their food bags in the next couple of months, the department will work with Gleaners to figure out if the program was successful and whether it should be expanded city wide.

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