INDIANAPOLIS -- If there is any good news to come out of 2017's record-setting violence, it can be found on the Near Eastside.
The neighborhood was the city’s deadliest last year, counting a total of 24 murders in 2016. As of this writing, the Near Eastside has seen just 10 murders – a reduction of nearly 60 percent.
Progress has been made in Martindale-Brightwood, too, just a short distance north over I-70. The neighborhood ranked second for homicides in 2016 with 19. As of this writing in 2017, it has seen 11.
Both neighborhoods, but particularly the Near Eastside, were the test zones for a targeted enforcement effort by IMPD dubbed “Operation New Normal.”
In December 2016, the department launched its first Operation New Normal sweep (following nearly 200 arrests in the area in October) to connect residents with social services.
During that sweep, volunteers from Gleaners Food Bank provided more than 300 meals capable of feeding a family of four for a week. Santa Clause handed out toys to an estimated 450 children. And IMPD officers visited approximately 200 households, providing utility assistance, food and clothing, receiving tips about narcotics and code enforcement violations and even signing up 12 people for health insurance.
The challenge now will be how the city can replicate those efforts at scale.
Homicide data from the surrounding neighborhoods suggests that as IMPD’s attentions decreased violence in the Near Eastside, it “pushed” it outward.
The Christian Park neighborhood just to the south of the enforcement area saw an increase from one murder in 2016 to four so far in 2017.
In Arlington Woods to the northeast, homicides have increased from two to five.
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