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'It takes a village': OPHS looks to tackle youth violence

Indianapolis' youth homicide rate has tripled since 2016
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Posted at 9:50 PM, May 20, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS — The Office of Public Health and Safety are working to improve Indianapolis’s youth crime rate.

According to a Youth Firearm Injury Report published by the IUPUI O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, the youth homicide rate jumped from 3.3 deaths per 100,000 young people in 2016 to 9.9 deaths per 100,000 in 2023.

IMPD Officer Tommy Thompson further expressed the dangers of these rates.

“We cannot allow these firearms to be in the hands of juveniles that act recklessly,” Thompson said.

The Indianapolis Office of Public Health and Safety (OPHS) has been tasked with finding new ways to reduce youth violence through the hiring of a Chief Violence Prevention Officer.

RELATED | Indianapolis hiring violence prevention officer to counter youth crime

Finding solutions following mass shooting

OPHS tells WRTV the hire has been made and an announcement is to come in the coming days.

Tony Lopez serves as the Deputy Director of Community violence reduction for the office of public health and safety.

“When we see those numbers, we have to make some changes,” Lopez shared when asked about the state of Indianapolis’ youth violence.

He feels kid’s turn to violence for numerous reasons.

“It's protection,” Lopez explained. “It's being in with the cool crowd of social media. It just varies and how do we reach them where they're at to see if we can change their mindset.”

Lopez explains that teens in Indianapolis express the need for mentorship.

“More people for the youth to see in a different aspect,” explained Lopez.

“Helping them see a different route that they could take I think a lot of times, that's what it is, is just mentorship and looking up to different people that are doing different things.”

OPHS offers numerous programs for teens in the community, especially over the summer months. You can learn more about those programs here.