(INDIANAPOLIS) – Indianapolis is earmarking another $3.3 million to reverse a rising tide of violent crime.
Indy is on pace to break its homicide record for a second straight year. Mayor Joe Hogsett will ask the City-County Council next week for money for domestic violence, mental health, and youth programs, and to upgrade the Indy Metro Police Department’s crime data tools.
Both halves of the package reinforce what’s already been the foundation of Hogsett’s anti-crime strategy. Announcing the plan Thursday, Hogsett said reducing violence requires addressing underlying causes like domestic abuse. He argued the city was beginning to see results, with a small decline in violent crime in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic jacked up stress levels, aggravating abuse and mental health issues. He said a surge in violence in cities across the U.S., not just Indy, is partly a pandemic aftershock.
Hogsett’s proposal calls for $1.8 million for measures including expanded programming for at-risk youth, trained mental health professionals as part of the emergency dispatch staff, and domestic violence “interrupters” to defuse violent situations and help get victims out of the house.
The other $1.5 million would upgrade Indy’s attempt to take a “Moneyball” approach to policing, identifying the blocks and streets which are crime hotspots and focusing extra patrols there. IMPD has boasted for years it would analyze crime data to deploy officers more efficiently. But Deputy Chief Chris Bailey says the department’s software hasn’t delivered on its promises, leaving commanders with data that’s too outdated to allow that strategy to work.
The department is still finishing work on the data coding necessary to operate the system, and will use some of the extra money on new software and hardware to use it. IMPD will also hire its first-ever chief data officer to oversee that work and other data needs.
The proposal is expected to easily pass the heavily Democratic City-County Council. Council Republicans say they didn’t get an advance look at the proposal, but say at first glance, it’s “just talk” and “throwing more money at some of the same programs that clearly are not working.”