INDIANAPOLIS — An increase in violence at downtown Indianapolis bars is costing taxpayers a lot of money.
IMPD has increased its presence throughout downtown Indianapolis to ensure the safety of patrons at local bars, specifically in the area between the 200 and 300 blocks of South Meridian Street. This area has eight bars within it.
IMPD Lieutenant William Carter said officers and detectives are doing what they can to make sure downtown bars are safe.
“It's all taxpayers' money," Carter said. "It's (about) controlling those people when they come out of those locations and we have to have concern for safety for individuals,” Carter said.
In 2021, IMPD only spent a little more than $570,000 covering that same stretch of bars, but there is a reason for that. For the first half of 2021, COVID-19 restrictions were in place and many of the bars were limited in hours.
Carter explained what IMPD typically does in the area with what they call their special events team.
“We come down and conduct compliance checks," Carter said. "We bring the Indianapolis Fire Department, Marion County Health Department and we come down to conduct a compliance check."
The increased police presence has been in place on South Meridian Street since 2017 to prevent violence.
“The activity that happens on South Meridian is generally responsible for the negative crime that happens downtown,” Downtown Indy Inc. President Sherry Seiwert said.
Among the violence along South Meridian Street includes a shooting on June 27, 2021, which included more than 40 shell casings recovered by IMPD.
In 2019, 32 people were arrested at Taps and Dolls and in the same year 55 people were arrested inside of Tiki Bobs - these charges range from battery to disorderly conduct.
“Security — I don’t think it needs to be with police necessarily, I think the bars need to clean up their own thing and set the standards of expectations,” Miles Mathis said.
Mathis said he frequents the bars fairly often and he has seen the increased police presence on the weekends.
“I don’t think you need six units outside,” Mathis said.
New bars are set to come to South Meridian Street in the next few months. Downtown Indy Inc. and IMPD are working together to make sure that the bars are in compliance.
“We are taking a far more active role in meeting with the owners in advance of before they pull their alcohol permit,” Seiwert said.