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Indianapolis hiring violence prevention officer this month to counter youth crime

7 teens shot downtown ndy
Posted at 5:54 PM, Apr 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-01 19:29:53-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The city of Indianapolis is looking for solutions after seven children between the ages of 12 and 16 were shot downtown on Easter weekend.

"What is a 12-year-old doing in downtown Indianapolis after midnight on a weekend unattended and unsupervised?" said Indianapolis mayor Joe Hogsett.

One answer could lie with a brand-new job: a chief violence prevention officer.

The Office of Public Health and Safety is interviewing candidates for what they describe as a cross between a law enforcement officer and a social worker.

"How do we work as a whole to keep our youth safe?" said Tony Lopez of the Office of Public Health and Safety. "It's how to really talk about the issues they have versus finding a gun and just shooting the other person. Those are things we need to get back to."

Lopez said 45 people have applied for the position. They hope to choose their hire by the middle of April.

"We don't want to repeat anything that people are already doing or recreate the wheel," Lopez said. "We want to be able to highlight, help, and partner wherever we can to help these organizations doing the great work while also looking at other practices that could do well in the city."

While Lopez believes the violence prevention officer will make a difference, he says some major factors behind teen violence are beyond their control.

"The youth have a great access to guns in the city, and that's a cause," Lopez said. "It takes a village and helping these parents keep an eye on their kids. Know where your kids are at."

Hogsett also says the violence prevention officer cannot do it alone.

"As mayor, this is a more general conversation about responsibility," Hogsett said. "Parents are responsible for their children."