KOKOMO — Kokomo's mayor is announcing new safety plans, including an increase in officers at Kokomo Beach and a nearby park every day starting later this week, after a teenager was shot at the aquatic center Tuesday evening.
"We got to the point now that we're basically going to take a more aggressive stance on making the community feel more safe being at Kokomo Beach," Kokomo Mayor Tyler Moore said.
Starting Friday new safety measures will be in place. Moore said law enforcement officers, either from the Kokomo Police Department and/or the Howard County Sheriff's Office, will be at the aquatic center, as well at nearby will be at Foster Park every day Kokomo Beach is open. The safety plan, he said, will also be used in future years.
"As we continue to increase the numbers within the police department, to therefore increase the level of community patrolling by the Kokomo Police Department, that we ask for the community's support as well to identify and report incidents as they see them occurring," Moore said. He continued, "We met with the Kokomo Beach staff this morning (Wednesday) and advised them to do the same, not to get involved in anything that may happen, but to give them the reassurance that as soon as they call, we'll have somebody coming."
Moore added officials are looking at call logs to determine when the rise in juvenile incidents began and to also pinpoint what time of day these incidents are occurring in the area.
"The initial staffing may be during the later hours when the majority, if not all, of those altercations or calls have been made," Moore said Wednesday.
The officers will also be checking bags and security cameras are being used in the area, Moore said.
The announcement of the new safety plans in the area comes less than 24 hours after a 16-year-old boy was shot by a 17-year-old boy Tuesday evening, according to police. Detectives are still working to determine what exactly led up to the shooting, but based on an initial investigation, it is believed an argument started inside the aquatic center and spilled out to the sidewalk where a shot was fired, Moore said.
Detectives are still trying to determine if the gun was ever inside the pool area.
The 16-year-old boy was taken to an Indianapolis hospital and is stable. The 17-year-old boy was taken to a juvenile detention center and preliminarily charged with dangerous possession of a firearm and possession of a stolen firearm, Capt. Scott Purtee said in a press release.
It's not yet clear if the two boys knew each other.
Anyone with information is asked to call Capt. Mike Banush at 765-456-7278, the Kokomo Police Department Hotline at 765-456-7017 or Crime Stoppers of Central Indiana at 1-800-262-8477.
Renewed calls for parents, community to help police
In a separate press release, Purtee said the department has recently noticed more incidents involving juveniles in the area. The department is renewing their calls for help from parents to know where their children are at all times and help prevent them from engaging in illegal activities.
"Officers of Kokomo Police Department have noticed a disturbing trend with some of the most recent incidents," Purtee said. "Many times, Officers are not only encountering uncooperative juveniles, but then are dealing with parents who are also uncooperative with the police."
The department is also working with Howard County Prosecutor Mark McCann to address the recent incidents.
"We are in agreement that in moving forward, there will be zero-tolerance for any individual aiding, inducing, or participating in crimes within our parks, trails, or other public facilities," Purtee said. "The Kokomo Police Department will continue to utilize all resources available to ensure the safety of our citizens and all perpetrators will be met with the full prosecutorial powers of the Howard County Prosecutor’s Office."
Purtee said the community members shouldn't fear becoming involved in an incident while in the community or enjoying the parks, amenities and trails the city and citizens "have spent countless hours revamping."
The department is asking anyone who witnesses or has information about a criminal act to contact police.
"One of the cornerstones of a low crime rate in any community is having citizens who will not tolerate illegal activity," Purtee said. "In working together, the Kokomo Police Department and the citizens of our community can overcome these issues."