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41 of 50 Indianapolis peacemaker spots filled; members continue working to reduce crime

Posted at 5:26 PM, Mar 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-09 19:36:45-05

INDIANAPOLIS — The city of Indianapolis is on a mission to make local communities safer by investing millions of dollars into crime prevention programs.

One of those programs, a grassroots effort called the peacemakers, sends people out in the streets to try and stop crime before it starts.

Recent gun violence, including the killings of two teenagers and the shooting of a city police officer, has upset the community and leaders alike.

The city now has 41 peacemakers who say they're doing all they can to make a difference.

"We work every day 40-50 hour weeks. I definitely think we are making a difference more than ever before," said Shardae Hoskins.

Shardae Hoskins is from the Far Eastside. She started as a peacemaker in December of 2019 and now oversees the program.

Peacemakers are hired by the city and tasked with walking neighborhoods, showing up to crime scenes as support and helping people at risk of falling into a criminal lifestyle or being a victim of crime find the resources they need to succeed.

"I would say it never gets easier, but we are definitely making strides," said Hoskins.

John Jones is one of the city's newest members to hit the streets.

"I went to a few crime scenes and funerals just to make sure everything is okay," he said.

Violence across Indianapolis has decreased since last year, but it's still not where city or community leaders want it to be.

"The streets are taking over," said Jones.

There have been at least 37 homicides this year in Indianapolis, with four victims younger than 18 years old.

"Any time there is a loss of life, particularly when victims are 14 and 15 years old, it is profound and it affects an entire community. I empathize with them," said Hogsett.

Hogsett said by investing millions of dollars in violence prevention programs like the peacemakers, he hopes to help change the narrative.

"Gun violence continues to be a challenge. The peacemakers are part of the resolution. Adding police officers will help," said Hogsett.

Peacemakers say while they can't stop all violence, they're confident they're saving lives.

"It's important because a lot of us guys come from the same environment growing up: in single-parent homes and needing someone to look up to and things like that so it's very needed for our community," said Montana Fitzpatrick.

The mayor's office says last year there were only around 12 peacemakers — nearly a third of how many there are now.

The city is hopeful it will have 50 by this summer.

The program has received an influx of applicants, which the mayor's office says shows the desire of people wanting to help combat crime in the city.