INDIANAPOLIS — Nationally, murder and manslaughter offenses spiked nearly 30% in 2020 over 2019 according to the FBI’s newly released 2020 crime data report. Here in Indy, we suffered more homicides than ever with 245 people killed.
While the numbers are staggering, it is vitally important to remember each of these numbers represents a person’s life. 20-year-old Chandler Bussey is one of those lives lost to violence in Indianapolis in 2020.
His mother, Melissa Jude, became an advocate for victims’ families overnight, fighting for more communication between those within the criminal justice system and families.
“It’s like, okay, if this is everyone having this experience, what do we do to make it better,” Jude said. “Then you just jump into what you can do to advocate for not only yourself but families.”
While Indy battled its own issues, homicides and violence ravaged cities nationwide. Tom Stucky, professor of Criminal Justice at the O’Neill of Public and Environmental Affairs, said the pandemic exacerbated issues society was already dealing with like substance and opioid abuse, job stability and dealing with conflict. Plus, Stucky cites an issue of too many guns in the hands of people who should not have them.
“The conditions that lead to homicide, virtually every dimension that you can imagine, the news is not good,” Stucky said.
Stucky said every person needs to accept the issue of violence is a problem impacting us all. He also said quick fixes to these challenges do not exist.
“The reality is that the day-to-day work that goes into preventing these kinds of situations is something that must be ongoing and must be a priority at all times,” Stucky said.
Indy’s Office of Public Health & Safety said they are finally able to return to in-person outreach events after the pandemic halted much of their programming.
“Letting them know the resources that we have, they feel safe to take it,” director Lauren Rodriguez said. “It’s harder for them to reach out to sometimes to get those resources.”
As our city strategizes for ways to prevent more people from dying, Jude hopes mothers and families like hers are heard.
“Simply please listen, put yourself in our shoes so you, as someone in power, can step in and start trying to make necessary improvements and you can be our voice,” Jude said.
You can view the FBI’s 2020 report at www.fbi.gov.