IMPD seeks additional funding for data upgrades after department analyzed through NYU partnership

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INDIANAPOLIS — Police and city leaders tell us a better data system, providing quicker information, is needed to prevent more shootings and homicides in Indy. This conclusion comes after a year-long partnership with the NYU School of Law’s Criminal Justice Lab that reviewed IMPD and the city’s crime data.

Ideally, officers believe improved data collection will help police and community organizations use their resources more wisely. Instead of policing entire neighborhoods, it would be a small, specific section of a street or block.

“Or specific apartment complexes or very small areas that are experiencing this specific nine category criteria,” Dep. Chief Josh Barker said.

These nine factors include non-fatal shootings, disturbance with a weapon, fight with a weapon, robbery, homicides, shots fired, person armed, domestic with a weapon and person shot. IMPD said they consider a specific segment of a street or block a hotspot after six or more of these factors are met over the course of a year, and that’s when IMPD comes up with a specific strategy.

“To try to identify and then mitigate what those issues are,” Barker said.

The data would also indicate where non-law enforcement resources are needed, like mental health care, health care, domestic violence resources and more.

“We know the important people that need to be there, the people that have the expertise in certain areas and so therefore, you’re not sending the wrong folks and the community is not getting service the way they should be getting service,” Judith Thomas, Indy’s deputy mayor of neighborhood engagement, said.

Improved data technology and analysis will cost more money, and that will be up to the council. IMPD and the city’s information services agency are asking for roughly $1.5 million for the improvements.

“It’s a constant honing in of big picture into what are the specific people, places and crime factors that are leading to a disproportionate amount of this violent crime and behavior that’s occurring in very small sections of the community,” Barker explained.

NYU’s review showed 40% of 911 calls did not require a law enforcement response. Assistant Chief Christopher Bailey told city-county councilors last week that responding to false alarms took up roughly 22,000 personnel hours or 12 full-time officers each spending full workdays responding to false alarms.

“It’s a staggering number of what types of calls for service are fielded at the communications center and what our officers are actually being sent on,” Barker said.

Barker said better data collection will also help with transparency and accountability. IMPD already has an early warning system in place, but a new system would notify supervisors automatically of any behaviors in question.

“It physically requires for that frontline sergeant or lieutenant to take a look,” Barker explained.

The current early warning system also tracks officers’ activity.

“Uses of force, number of vehicle pursuits, number of foot chases, CS deployment, taser deployment, number of complaints, a variety of categories across the board,” Barker said.

As part of their new strategies, IMPD has already launched its violence reduction teams (VRT) and violent crimes task forces (VCTF), two special units on each district. These teams have already removed hundreds of crime guns since they started in April. You can read more here, cbs4indy.com/news/.

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