INDIANAPOLIS — IMPD Assistant Chief Chris Bailey has spent more than two decades trying to keep the people of Indianapolis safe from fellow citizens who would do them harm.
”I think there are more guns on the street, more people who are willing to use guns in whatever circumstances that they’re in, so, I think the world is different than it was in 2016 and 17 and, so, even comparing what people are willing to do now compared to then is different.”
Changes in IMPD policing and investigative strategies, combined with record community anti-violence spending and public safety appropriations by the Hogsett Administration, have resulted in a slump of violent crime statistics that seem to have peaked in 2021.
“They’re trending in the right direction,” said Lauren Rodriguez, Director of the Officer of Public Health and Safety, “and we have to remind ourselves that this stuff didn’t occur overnight.”
Compared to a year ago, as of October 4, homicides in Indianapolis are down nearly 17% compared to last year’s record setting pace and non-fatal shootings have dropped almost 13%.
On October 4, 2019, IMPD had recorded 122 homicides.
A year later that total stood at 177.
Last year, the most murderous in the city’s history, the homicide total stood at 202.
As of Tuesday, this year’s tally was 169.
”All the crime trends have been going down since April of last year,” said Bailey.
IMPD marks April 5, 2021, as the statistical benchmark to chart the success of its remodeled policing and investigative strategies.
Overall arrest numbers have declined by five percent as Metro PD has focused on tracking and arresting, trigger pullers, armed robbers, violent rapists and the most dangerous wanted felons.
Gun crimes detectives, violent crimes investigators, specialty district units and covert robbery officers have apprehended nearly three thousand offenders since the spring of 2021, presumably taking many potential suspects and victims off the streets before more violence is committed.
”It’s not just about protecting our victims. Sometimes it’s about protecting these criminals from themselves and the sooner that we can get them off the street and stop their activity, then we protect lives,” said Bailey. ”We want outcomes that are positive for our community and I think that’s a big mindset change.”
Bailey said one of the biggest IMPD successes has been putting a halt to serial robbers before their stickups become more violent.
“Our covert robbery unit which is the unit in my opinion which has really driven down the number of robberies in our city over the last four years because they know, and we all know, that you’re not just committing one robbery. You’re committing multiple,” he said. ”They’re using intelligence and technology to focus their efforts on that small number of people who are committing, the robberies, making arrests and pushing our robberies down.”
IMPD’s Crime Gun Intelligence Center was expanded regionwide in the summer of 2021 and, combined with more suburban participation in the Indianapolis Violence Reduction Project, has succeeded in seizing more guns and the people who use them illegally.
”We know that that gun has been used in at least two shootings, that’s why its drawn its attention to us and the sooner we can get that person, and, more importantly, that gun, off the street, we’ve stopped that shooting cycle that continues,” said Bailey. ”People get more emboldened, as they go on they feel like they’re never gonna get caught, and so bad things happen when it’s allowed to perpetuate itself.”
Despite the refocused emphasis on dangerous felons, his summer offenders that were targets of IMPD specialty units succeeded in taking lives even as detectives were closing in.
Two serial robbers were seconds away from apprehension in August when they allegedly killed a westside funeral home director outside his business.
Last month, a man wanted on meth and gun charges fled officers and drove wrong way on I-465 causing a crash that took his life and the lives of two other people.
”I can’t speak to whether each individual gets more and more desperate, but I know that they’re dangerous people and when you’re going after dangerous people, sometimes bad things happen,” said Bailey. ”The people that our officers are focusing on, that our detectives are focusing on, are violent dangerous people, and there’s always the potential that bad things happen as we go after them, but I think that’s what our community expects us to do. Our community expects us to go out and go after the worst of the worst.”
The IMPD change in strategy coincides with $15 million committed this year and for the next two years by Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett to community anti-violence spending.
OPHS claims its peacemakers have performed 464 mediations thus far this year, contacted 111 people at high risk for gun violence, enrolled 67 of them in 18-month-long life coaching programs that have led to nearly half gaining fulltime employment.