INDIANAPOLIS — In a city where homicides are on pace to break another tragic record, Mayor Joe Hogsett’s administration has invested millions of dollars into programs, technology and other initiatiaves aimed at reducing violence.
Hogsett has launched a series of reforms to policing in the city, along with providing grants to community groups and funding to public safety programs outside of law-enforcement.
Some of the changes came in response to demonstrations in the summer of 2020 that drew thousands to the streets to protest police killings of Black men and women in Indianapolis and across the country.
Hogsett promised to unveil new violence-reduction efforts this month when his office proposes a 2022 budget, which includes an unprecedented $400 million from the federal American Rescue Plan.
“When the budget gets presented there’s going to be a robust discussion about public safety," Hogsett said. "I think that everyone on the council, Republicans and Democrats alike, understand that gun violence, and public safety, generally, is the city's top priority right now."
Here are some of the major efforts Hogsett has launched aimed at curbing violence and renewing confidence in policing:
Civilian oversight: Hogsett launched a host of updates to IMPD policies in 2020, the biggest change being a new civilian-led Use of Force board with authority to review any incident in which an officer uses a firearm, Taser or physical force. The panel includes five civilians and four police officers.
IMPD body cameras: After years of debate and handwringing over the costs, in August 2020 Hogsett finally found the money to equip Indianapolis officers with body cameras. The department has since released video in eight “critical incidents,” including an incident in May 2021 in which officers fatally shot a man who was armed and reported to be suicidal.
Bans on aggressive tactics: In the summer of 2020, IMPD banned controversial police practices including chokeholds, no-knock warrants and the practice of shooting into or from moving vehicles.
De-escalation tactics: Last year the department rewrote its use-of-force policy and required officers to first try de-escalation techniques when feasible to calm tense situations before they use force.
Grants to grassroots groups: Hogestt’s administration gave $2.2 million in grants to 26 community groups working to reduce violence in Indianapolis in 2021. The grants are administered by the Central Indiana Community Foundation. The money went to a range of groups that are working on prisoner reentry, removing guns from the streets, mentoring the city’s youth and other programs.
More grants: The City-County Council is awarding $1.3 million to dozens more community organizations in 2021. The council and CICF awarded the first round of these grants in June to about 40 groups. The city's Office of Public Health and Safety funds another grant program that has awarded more than $700,000 over two years.
Technology to fight crime: City leaders this month approved a plan to invest $1.5 million in software, storage and employees to help IMPD map crime trends to specific blocks or even properties. Using this information, Hogsett's office said IMPD will focus officers, social services and other resources on the specific areas with the most dire crime problems. IMPD is also using this money on software to better track racial equity and provide an early warning on officers who may be on track to use excessive force or otherwise deviate from department policy.
Domestic violence and mental health resources: The same plan that improved crime-fighting technology included another $1.8 million to fund programs outside of IMPD that include hiring advocates to work with domestic violence victims, supporting groups that help juveniles overcome trauma and other mental health problems, bringing mental health professionals into the 911 dispatch system and bringing staff to the Assessment and Intervention Center, which helps identify and divert low-level drug offenders into treatment programs.
Contact WRTV reporter Vic Ryckaert at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @vicryc.