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INDIANAPOLIS–Eight years ago Officer Jerome Harrison was patrolling the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood. He frequently saw a young man who was involved in petty crimes. He’d run from the police and even drive on a suspended license. Harrison says that man is just one example of how people can change.

“He was one of my frequent flyers,” said Harrison. “So, several days ago I ran into him and even in the conversation you could tell that his life has changed. He now has a family. He now has kids. Now his behavior is completely different.”

Harrison believes in beat policing. It’s a term that you hear from Mayor Joe Hogsett and other leaders quite frequently, in which Harrison, as a patrol officer in the northern district of IMPD, participates every day.

“You have an officer assigned to s specific area or beat. The officers get to know the citizens and the citizens get to know the officer,” he said. “You can start to build those relationships with the citizens they serve.”

Hogsett has said for the past four years that he believes beat policing part of the solution to slowing violent crime in Indy. Former police chief Bryan Roach and current Chief Randal Taylor agree and have kept the practice.

“If a citizen sees an officer working their shift over and over day out, I think they’ll be more apt to give information versus someone that they don’t know,” said Harrison, in an interview at IMPD’s north district station on 30th St., near Keystone Ave.

Harrison worked the Butler-Tarkington area for the first few years as an officer, after he signed on in 2003.

“Even today when I see some of the people that I arrested over in that area, they are apt to give me information on certain crimes because I established those relationships.”

Another example was a man who gave Harrison info on a burglary suspect recently, when Harrison was called to that area as an evidence technician.

But, the advantages go beyonf tips on suspects and can also be handy in identifying situations that could end up with violence, before they do.

Harrison, who pastors a church near 32nd and Sherman, said he believes the solution to the current surge is manifold, but that a start is trying to change the hearts of people. Good parenting also helps. He says people, especially young people, should also be taught how to resolve problems without using a gun.

PHOTO: Chris Davis/Emmis