Officials discuss Indy’s partnership with National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform

Crime in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and the executive director of the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform spoke Wednesday on a partnership with the city which will hopefully, finally curb gun violence. NICJR has worked with the city for some time, analyzing the violence problem in Indy and offering recommendations to stop more people from dying.

The Hogsett Administration said now the city finally has the money to implement these recommendations thanks to the American Rescue Plan.

“The program is evidence-based and it is data-backed,” Hogsett said during today’s news conference with NICJR leaders and other elected and appointed officials. “Ultimately it focuses on how we can identify the individuals and the groups most likely to be involved in gun violence, and thereby intervene before violence occurs.”

Those identified will be connected with a life coach-type of mentor who will talk to them daily and meet with them multiple times a week at first.

“Someone who’s going to work with that person, develop a positive, trusting relationship with them first,” NICJR Executive Director David Muhammad said. “First about an intensive relationship, then once you have a relationship with them, you can influence them and your influence can turn into better decision making.”

NICJR said their strategy also involves law enforcement focused on the people and groups most likely to continue causing harm in Indy and a specific plan for outreach.

“Prevention also has to be focused and so if you just generally have a wide net for prevention, you’re not going to be effective,” Muhammad said.

This strategy is similar to the one Muhammad helped Oakland, CA implement in 2012, which was the start of six consecutive years of decreasing deaths by homicide.

“Generally when you have a fully implemented, with fidelity to this type of strategy, you can begin to see impacts after 6 months,” Muhammad said. “At the end of the year, we really should begin to see impacts.”

In 2020 and 2021, Oakland, like so many other cities across the country, is again suffering from high amounts of deadly violence. That is why we asked whether Indy Hoosiers should feel confident in this plan.

Muhammad said COVID19 halted many key elements of the strategy.

“What happened at the end of March 2020 was, 40 people in Oakland whose full-time job is just to focus on reducing gun violence in the community, that all went away overnight,” Muhammad explained. “It all went away with shelter in place orders. It took Oakland honestly way too long to bring them back.”

Muhammad said he and his team will be in Indy frequently over the next three years, helping the city to successfully implement this plan.

“We’re going to tell you what we did right, but we’re also going to tell you what we did wrong so that you don’t make the same mistakes,” Muhammad said.

In August, the mayor announced a historic investment in public safety efforts, powered by a $150 million boost from federal American Rescue Plan funding. The investment focuses on law enforcement staffing and technology, grassroots violence reduction programming and targeting the root causes of violence.

Indianapolis is on pace for a record number of homicides in 2021.

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