INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — It’s a new year, but tragically Indianapolis is dealing with the same problem: homicides. In 2020, 245 Hoosiers died in Indy, the most ever.
On Tuesday, Mayor Joe Hogsett, IMPD Chief Randal Taylor and Director of Community Violence Reduction Shonna Majors met to update the community on public safety matters.
Under the Office of Public Health & Safety and as part of its gun violence reduction strategy, OPHS said it would implement monthly meetings with the city’s peacekeepers and the Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF)’s grant recipients. They also announced the implementation of violence interrupters for 2021.
Through a partnership with the Indy Public Safety Foundation, several interrupters will receive a salary and abide by an “accountability framework for street-level interruptions of retaliatory and other potential violence.”
However, Rev. Charles Harrison, Board President of Indianapolis TenPoint Coalition, said this is a strategy TenPoint’s modeled for decades.
“What they are doing is replicating the TenPoint model,” Harrison insisted. “They did know that. I presented a plan to Mayor Hogsett and to Shonna Majors for what we were recommending to do which had in there the OGs, which is the violence interrupters.”
Elder David Coatie of Christ Apostolic Church, and a TenPoint member, questioned why the city did not ask for TenPoint’s assistance when implementing this street outreach program.
“It’s kind of like saying, ‘I have a nice car and you can ride in this car,'” Coatie said. “Then you say, ‘No I want to make another car and ride in it.’ Well, why would you make another vehicle when there’s already one that is working?”
Following the city’s virtual update on Tuesday, Rev. Harrison, the City of Peace Coalition, and other groups, who have not always partnered with TenPoint or the City of Peace Coalition, are planning a virtual public safety summit. They said it will be the first of many meetings before putting out a public plan to address homicides.
“Once the city came out with another crime prevention plan, enough is enough,” Harrison said. “I mean what we heard the other day was nothing new. They’re using initiatives that are already being done here in the City of Indianapolis. The violence interrupters are not anything new. We’ve been doing that in Indianapolis over twenty years.”
Over the Hogsett Administration’s five years in office, more than $10 million in community crime prevention grant dollars have gone to try to find a solution to solving violence issues in Indy. Harrison said he feels resistance from this administration to work with TenPoint or other seasoned groups.
“I don’t want it to just be TenPoint,” Harrison said. “We’re one of many groups. There’s a lot of groups that are doing effective work. But when we’re working together it becomes more effective. You do have a template that has been working in this city again, under Mayor Goldsmith, Mayor Peterson and Mayor Ballard that worked. We were not breaking homicide records under those mayors.”
As a note, the city began seeing record homicides before Mayor Hogsett took office in 2016. Harrison said the recent and current homicide numbers must indicate something is not working.
“Whatever’s going on, these homicides are continuing to escalate and just throwing money to new groups is not working,” Harrison said. “It’s not working and what we’ve been doing has proven effective.”
Coatie said the reason TenPoint’s model works is that they have worked in the communities for decades. He questions whether those working for the city have similar experiences.
“That’s the frustration because people will not go to those individuals who are saying that they’re doing these programs cause they don’t know them,” Coatie insisted.
We did reach out to the city for comment before and after the interviews with Harrison and Coatie. They referred us back to Tuesday’s public safety update.
For reference, Indy TenPoint patrols certain neighborhoods in Butler Tarkington, the United Northwest, Crown Hill, Highland Vicinity, and 38th and 42nd Streets between Mitthoeffer Road and German Church Road.
Harrison reports in their first two months in the 38th and 42nd Street area between Mitthoeffer and German Church, they endured five homicides in 2020. Now, in partnership with IMPD and the community, they are just 29 days away from a year without a homicide.
CICF confirmed the Indianapolis TenPoint Coalition did apply for grant money but did not receive any funding.