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Pastors call a 'public safety emergency' in Indianapolis

Posted at 4:52 PM, Feb 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-12 18:27:48-05

INDIANAPOLIS — After a record-breaking homicide year in the city of Indianapolis, community members, stakeholders and local pastors are discussing ways to work together and reduce violence in the community.

“We shouldn’t have to live in fear,” Pamela Brodie Wooden said, who lost her daughter to gun violence. “We should feel more protected in our own city and state, and we don’t.”

It’s been nearly three years since Pamela Brodie Wooden’s 34-year-old daughter Monica Pirtle was shot outside her home on the northeast side. She was coming home from a movie when someone opened fire. Still, no arrests have been made.

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“Her oldest daughter kept calling us telling us they heard gunshots outside,” she said. “Mama wasn’t answering her phone. We were calling her and inboxing her, telling her to get home, the girls are scared, somebody’s shooting over there. And not knowing the whole time it was her.”

Sadly, this is not an uncommon story for many families in Indianapolis.

“What is going on in our communities is a large, large, large area of trauma that has not been addressed,” said Dr. Wayne L. Moore, senior pastor of Olivet Baptist Church & President of Baptism Minister’s Alliance.

Concerned local pastors came together Friday, calling this a public safety emergency in the city of Indianapolis, driven by the unprecedented 2020 homicide numbers — and already troubling violence January saw.

“If the numbers we saw today does not warrant change, what would be? 200 homicides a year? 300 homicides a year?” asked Dr. Stephen J. Clay, senior pastor of Messiah Baptist Church & President of the National Action Network of Indiana.

They’re calling for changes within the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department homicide unit, including the creation of a homicide dashboard to be shared with the city.

“Maybe if we reallocate dollars to homicide, more manpower, more technology, a dashboard, greater transparency, you can have a greater community cooperation in addressing some of these unsolved homicides,” Clay said.

They say better connection and contact with families will help reduce the ongoing trauma in those communities.

“What needs to change is communication with the detectives,” Wooden said. “They always say they’re overloaded with work. I have a nephew who’s been gone over eight years now and we’ve been hearing that same story. Everybody’s been hearing that constantly.”

“These neighborhoods and these areas are traumatized,” Moore said. “And so not only do we need to look at the detective aspect of it, but we also need to look at expanding the chaplaincy other than making notifications, but being able to stay in contact with these families to help minimize trauma in their family and in those neighborhoods.”

Wooden is also a part of a group called “Purpose 4 My Pain.” If you know a family that has been impacted by the recent upside in gun violence in Indianapolis, she wants you to know they have refuses to help. You can email them at purpose4mypain@yahoo.com.

IMPD released the following statement in response:

We continue to work with our community to ensure our efforts fulfill their expectations of us, and we always appreciate the opportunity to listen to ideas from our residents. Conversations are ongoing on how to continue improving transparency and community involvement in our processes, build stronger bridges of trust with our neighbors, and make significant changes in our department to better address violent crime. We hope that by continuing to work together, we will make every Indianapolis neighborhood a safer place to live, work, and play.