Officials praise president’s plan to spend relief money on violence reduction

Crime in Indianapolis

(File/Getty)

INDIANAPOLIS–One of the highlights of President Biden’s address on violence reduction was his approval to direct unspent American Recovery Act funds toward the local fight against crime.

“We’ve been planning to use the money all along for violence reduction projects, so what he said yesterday really reinforces what our ideas were in being able to work from our wish list to create these programs,” said Lauren Rodriquez, Director of the Office of Public Health and Safety in Indianapolis. “We used it for domestic violence, preventative initiatives, some mental health initiatives, housing insecurity, food insecurity.”

This year the Hogsett administration boosted IMPD spending in the wake of calls across the country to “Defund the Police” and three weeks ago announced more than three million dollars in IMPD technology and data collection upgrades and additional community anti-violence initiatives.

Rodriquez said when the next round of priorities is identified, the mayor’s office will determine what level of spending can be appropriated from the COVID relief funds.

“The process going forward is the same it’s always been, planning and programming, reaching out to councilors, community organizations, other government agencies to see what our goals are, what our initiatives are, and then going before Council to ask for that funding.”

President Biden also directed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to seize licenses of gun dealers who knowingly provide firearms to illegal purchasers and stem the gun pipeline from states like Indiana into cities such as Chicago which have tougher anti-firearms ordinances.

U.S. Attorneys are also being encouraged to work more closely with local police and prosecutors to take more state gun charges to federal court.

So far this year, IMPD reports federal prosecutors have filed charges on approximately 20 cases developed by the Crime Gun Intelligence Center and next month the CGIC model developed in Marion County will be expanded to include suburban cities such as Carmel, Avon and Zionsville.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to provide an opportunity for additional police presence and as a force multiplier in our own town from time-to-time because, if we have a problem, not only do we have the resources of our police department, but the resources of others in this group,” said Zionsville Chief Michael Spears. “Crime does not know boundaries and our officers last year stopped an individual within the town and arrested the person and found a gun and through the course of the investigation found the gun was used in a homicide in Indianapolis and some other non-fatal shootings.”

Spears said his department would also examine ways to access COVID relief funds to pay for police spending in the growing suburban community.

One item on the IMPD wish list that may be too expensive for the city, no mater who’s paying, could be gunshot spotter technology with a price tag in excess of $25 million to cover Indianapolis’ 368 square miles.

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