INDIANAPOLIS–The feds are bringing more help to try and slow gun violence in Indianapolis. “Operation–Legend”, is a commitment of 57 federal agents for the next 45 days to help bring down “acute levels” of gun violence, and a commitment of federal money to the effort.
U.S. Atty. Josh Minkler said the use of federal agents and resources to support the Indianapolis Mtro Police Dept. is not new, but that the gun violence in the past three months is being met with a commitment of more agents and investigators.
“Gun violence has been persistent. This persistent challenge has become acute during the months of May, June, July and August of this year,” said Minkler.
The operation is an expansion of what the federal government has already been doing in Detroit, Kansas City, St. Louis, Memphis and other cities, where violence has been an on-going problem. U.S. Atty. Gen. William Barr announced federal resources for those cities last year.
Agents from several different agencies will be on the streets with Indy police. The DEA, for instance, will focus on cartel activity and helping catch armed drug dealers, while the FBI will focus on gangs and the U.S. Marshal’s Service will help catch fugitives.
The operation will also provide a quarter of a million dollars for overtime for IMPD officers.
“It also makes available $25,000 in reward money, which will be offered for unsolved homicides,” said Minkler.
“In Indianapolis we have seen 144 homicides this year. That is more than a 50 percent increase over this time last year,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett. “That number is unacceptable.
Hogsett said the rise could be attributed to the reaction to restrictions and lockdowns, “a spike in gun purchases”, a decrease in face to face outreach in the hardest-hit neighborhoods, boredom, or all or none of the reasons listed.
Minkler stressed that the operation is not a response to riots, nor will federal agents be sweeping streets and stopping innocent people. They will focus on bad guys, like drug dealers who have been shooting people.
“Why are drug traffickers armed? Because they have drugs and money,” said Minkler. “When somebody that you have sold drugs to for profit does not pay you, you cannot go to court and file a breach of contract action and ask for your money. The only way you can get that money is with violence or the threat of violence.”
He said another consequence of the partnership between Indianapolis and federal agencies is that people who commit violent acts may be prosecuted under federal law, which carried stiffer penalties. Minkler said federal prosecutors ask for federal prison, with an average sentence of ten years, with no time served in an ankle monitor on home release.
“Many times defendants will come after being charged in federal court and ask for mercy, ask for a break. These are reasonable requests. I am unreasonable to those requests. There are no exceptions.”