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INDIANAPOLIS — Violent crime is on the decline in the Capitol City, according to city leaders, and they are crediting a violence reduction program implemented last year with federal funding.

As of Aug. 24, 143 people have died in Indianapolis because of homicide and there had been 385 shootings. City leaders say that their Gun Violence Reduction Strategy has yielded a 17-percent drop in murders and an 11-percent drop in non-fatal shootings.

“Around the country, there is, on average, a 3-percent decline in homicides in big cities,” said David Muhammad, executive director of the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform. “The city of Indianapolis is far outpacing the national average.”

The NICJR is consulting with the city on implementing the strategy which includes a comprehensive deep dive into the main causes of violence related to guns in Indianapolis, as well as training civilians, to de-escalate violence on a grassroots level.

So far this year Public Health experts say they have done 393 violence interruptions, instances where a civilian trained by NICJR has been able to step in and stop violence before it happened.

Muhammad recalls one instance described to him by one of their violence interrupters.

“He got out of his car, got in between them, mediated between them, calmed down the tension, they both knew him, knew him to be a credible actor in that neighborhood,” said Muhammad. “He was able to calm them down and he stayed there until both of them got into their respective cars and drove off.”

The strategy is funded through 2024 with federal money from the American Rescue Plan and other grants approved by the city-county council, Mayor Joe Hogsett believes that once that money runs out they can still keep the plan rolling.

“Indianapolis is seeing a decline in violence at levels we have not seen in over a decade,” Hogsett said. “Where you go after that (federal funding runs out), I do believe it is sustainable. We’re going to have to dedicate more resources from our local option income tax and property tax.”

Looking ahead, Hogsett said the city has enough money to be able to hire and train another 200 police officers, that is if they can recruit and graduate those prospective officers in the near future.