Downtown Indy’s March Madness safety plan includes app, safety ambassadors and additional security cameras

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INDIANAPOLIS––With thousands of visitors expected in Indianapolis over the next month for three major college basketball tournaments, IMPD and its partners have rolled out a new cell phone app for citizens to report anything they deem out of the ordinary that might need a police response.

IMPD Deputy Chief Josh Barker explained the new app.

“RELAY offers app-based technology that harnesses the power of the smart device that is in everybody’s hand or pocket right now to act as another layer of eyes and ears for the police department when we cannot be omni-present,” Barker said during an appearance outside Bankers Life Fieldhouse. “It allows app users to directly report non-emergency incidents directly to the officers that are close by them while also being able to send pictures and videos of what it is they are reporting.”

Barker said the app is a two-way street for users.

“Just as RELAY allows citizens to directly interface with the police officers, Relay Broadcast allows critical public safety messaging to be pushed to every user of the Relay App.”

Mayor Joe Hogsett said the app will augment additional bike and foot patrols and public safety ambassadors in securing downtown for the tournaments.

“Added to them are a network of 50 cameras recently installed throughout the downtown accessible to IMPD intelligence officers through our B Link program,” said Hogsett. “These three initiatives among many others will be keeping visitors safe and informed in this historic month for our downtown and our city.”

Some 20 businesses in the downtown area have signed on to the B Link program which gives IMPD access to 66 private surveillance camera views.

The city’s own surveillance camera system is outdated and facing repair or replacement.

IMPD has access to 14 city cameras with 41 views of downtown currently.

When the tournaments arrive, police will enforce traffic lane restrictions outside of host hotels and venue sites to keep players, staff and officials separated from the general public for their own safety and personal health.

“A lot of the venues that we have downtown and throughout Marion County, to include where hotels where the teams are playing, you’re gonna have lane restrictions and even some sidewalk restrictions to help protect that bubble and keep those teams moving and going where they need to go because we’re gonna have quite a few teams making a lot of movements especially once March Madness gets here,” said IMPD Commander Tom Sellas.

Recently downtown Indianapolis has seen four shootings in a two-hour period, the discovery of a body in an alley and at least three parking garage assaults, one involving a four-year-old boy, another a woman on her way to work and an armed robbery on state-owned garage near the Statehouse.

“Its hard to predict some of these things that have happened here lately,” said IMPD Chief Randal Taylor. “Obviously we have people living downtown who have those same type of concerns but we are committed to making sure that they remain safe. There may be some other plans that we put into place to make sure those things don’t continue to happen but, all-in-all, I think you have to admit that downtown is pretty safe. Its pretty unfortunate these last three events that you have talked about, but, that is pretty uncommon for downtown.”

IMPD provided CBS4 News with statistics that showed reported downtown crime year-to-date through February 20th was down compared with 2020 before the pandemic hit and the economic slowdown reduced the number of workers and visitors to the city’s core to a fraction of its typical daily population.

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