Marion county criminal justice system leaders address solutions to public safety crisis


INDIANAPOLIS — The leaders of the Marion County criminal justice system gathered for a public discussion during the Criminal Justice Planning Council meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

Those in attendance included Marion County Public Defender Robert Hill, Office of Public Health and Safety Director Lauren Rodriguez, Council President Vop Osili, Police Chief Randal Taylor, Chairman Leroy Robinson, Prosecutor Ryan Mears, Judge Amy Jones, Controller Ken Clark, Professor Frances Watson, Mayor Joe Hogsett, and CJPC Chair Myla Eldridge.

“It was just time to convene,” Robinson said. “We meet in silos, talk individually. We talk in small groups. I think bringing all of the players together, the heads of every single agency, throughout our city the sheriff’s department, prosecutor, public defender, city-county council, the mayor, OPHS, bringing us all together in one form publicly to talk about what we’re doing to address the issues of violence in our community. It was important to me; it was important to all of us to address those issues and then talk about what we’re going to do going forward to make our city safe.”

At least 151 people have been killed in Indy so far this year. Robinson said it will take time and dedication to curb the violence.

“Even though we get repeat calls for immediate solutions, there aren’t any,” Robinson said to the group. “So, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, there’s no immediate solutions to these long-term issues, the root causes of violence.”

Everyone around the table agreed addressing root causes must be a priority, and there are no easy answers to the surging violence. So far this year, the city’s agreed to pour roughly $6.6 million into organizations addressing issues like crime, mental health, domestic violence, and youth services.

“Every single month we’re putting proposals together on the floor,” Robinson said. “Millions of dollars to address domestic violence, mental health, young juvenile incarceration, putting things together today to address that. So, we’re investing our resources into those issues to address it today as well.”

Taylor said IMPD is removing hundreds of guns off the streets, which provides short-term success. Since launching in April, IMPD’s district-specific violence reduction teams and violent crimes task forces have seized 348 guns and made 952 arrests.

“They’ve done some incredible work in really a short period of time, I’m really proud of them,” Taylor said. “They get to focus on those areas per district that are the hotspots.”

Like those around the table, Taylor’s take on crime prevention and reduction requires police and grassroots organizations to work side by side.

“I think the missing element still is we don’t have all the groups working together like they need to,” Taylor explained. “Our officers are out there day and night, but they’re responding to the bloodshed, right? We would much rather come from the standpoint of someone that’s doing proactive work, not reactive work.”

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