INDIANAPOLIS — Three months ago, the peacemakers program expanded rapidly going from two in the program to nearly 45 now. The group of interrupters, outreach workers and life coaches are tasked with being out in the community, stopping crime before it starts.
“Last weekend was a huge learning experience for my team,” program manager Shardae Hoskins said.
Last weekend marks one of the most violent the city has seen this year. The peacemakers said those 72-hours were a learning experience.
“Going into this weekend we’re a lot more prepared," Hoskins said. "I understand because I’ve been in this role a little while, but they are starting to understand how weekends, how temperatures, how all of these different variables play a role in violence."
Branden Ballard is an outreach worker with the peacemakers.
“It was a call to action — a divine call to action — of the people that’s really going to do something,” Ballard said.
Ballard has been on the job since January, when the program expanded.
"What I realized and what I learned is that it's just a lack of hope here in the city,” Ballard said.
But it is the peacemakers' mission to restore that loss hope. Hoskins said they are taking what they learned last weekend to use moving forward.
Both Hoskins and Ballard said it is going to take the entire community to come together and get involved to see an end to the city’s violence.
“In order for all of us to really make this thing work, we can be the captains of the team, the peacemakers, but everyone can be a peacemaker,” Ballard said.
Peacemakers will receive $37.5 million over the next three years through the Mayor’s Violence Reduction Plan.