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Thirty-seven times.

That’s apparently the number of times I’ve asked Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett about the city’s skyrocketing murder rate.

What am I talking about?

Well, this past week the Mayor and his staff had their usual virtual media briefing.  It’s a regular event where the Mayor and his staff get together with us media folks,  The Mayor and staff fill us in on what’s going on in the city and we media folks ask questions,  It’s a pretty straight forward event.  At least it was until this past week.

After the Mayor had done his presentation it was time for questions,  And please note this was just a few days after the Adams Street mass murders,

So here is the question I asked the Mayor, verbatim,

“Good morning Mr, Mayor.  A couple of things.  With our crime issue we’ve had lately in the city, what message have you had lately to residents to citizens that things will get better.  Because obviously there are facts on the ground, but there’s also that public perception.  We had 214 murders last year, a new record.  The most recent tragedy that we had on Adams Street.  What message do you have that things will get better?”

Pretty simple pretty straightforward, I thought.  The Mayor’s response was something completely different.  He was angry.  I don’t know if he was mad at me or if everything had just hit a nerve.

He started out by saying he and I had this conversation every time he has a press conference.  He said the questions and the premises were always the same, so “let me answer this question for the 37th time you’ve asked.”   He went on to express his confidence in IMPD and his Peacekeepers program.   He talked about beat policing and neighborhood violence prevention and taking national bet practice,s and adapting them locally. “You and I have talked about this for 37 times,” Hogsett said twice.

Well, what can I say?   I think I can say I have asked the question about our murder rate a lot more than 37 times.  The reason I ask the question and will continue to ask is that the problem hasn’t gotten any better under Hogsett’s tenure.  In fact, it has gotten worse.  214 murders last year, a record number.  And depending on how you do the math, we’ve had a least two dozen for the month of January.   We had 14 murders in January of last year, so here we are at nearly twice as many.

Hogsett ran as the public safety Mayor, and when it comes to killings, public safety has only gotten worse.  Yes, overall crime is down, and city folks should be recognized for that, but when it comes to what the public thinks is a crime, which is usually the murder rate, things are worse than they have ever been in Indianapolis.

So if I hit a nerve with Hizzoner, good. After last summer’s downtown riots and the murders in Indianapolis are out of control, he needs a nerve or two hit.  And if my question was enough to get the Mayor to feel some outrage and do his job, then I am doing my job.    Even if I had to do it at least 37 times.

Photo: Abdul-Hakim Shabazz