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INDIANAPOLIS–If you’re planning on coming to downtown Indianapolis for any of the events that are happening in 2021, the police department says you’ll be okay. That’s not a guarantee, but Indianapolis Metro Police Deputy Chief Josh Barker, says the department has put much effort into making it safer in the past few months.

“The overall violent crime in downtown Indianapolis represents less than fiver percent of the violent crime we experience in the city as a whole,” he said.

LISTEN: IMPD Deputy Chief Josh Barker on downtown Indy

He said that new tech, including a system of cameras, may help cut down on the crime even further so that people going to Pacers games, or if fans are ultimately allowed at the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, will see that Indianapolis is a great host city.

“This is a lot like the Super Bowl. But, where it’s different is where you have a lot of preparation for one one game, this is a lot of preparation for 60 plus games over the course of several weeks,” he said.

Some of that prep has been dealing with what Barker says is a misperception about downtown, that it’s crime-ridden.

“I think downtown is reopen and thriving, obviously given the current conditions,” he said. “Our police department is committed to making sure that downtown reopens as safely as possible and we’ve done a great deal to make sure that happens.”

That includes working with homeless people, who have been noticeably more visible on Monument Circle, before an effort in the opening days of 2021, to have them vacate a makeshift encampment in front of Hilbert Circle Theater.

“We can’t come in and wave a magic wand and end homelessness in Indianapolis,” said Barker. But, what police can do is build relationships with homeless people, so that when they are ready to change their lifestyle, the right organizations know where to find them.

Barker also noted that the images many people saw during the riots at the end of May and beginning of June have stuck with them and added to that perception.

“After the riots that we experienced in may, from June 1, on up to and including now, Indianapolis and IMPD have worked over a hundred demonstrations and protests in the downtown area, and we’ve done so safely.”

Barker said the best way to beat the misperception is to actually get out of the house and visit downtown.

“At some point you have to turn off the TV, you’ve got to turn off social media and you’ve really got to take the opportunity to come down and see just how great downtown Indianapolis is in person.”