INDIANAPOLIS — Operation Legend, the federal effort curb gun violence in Indianapolis has been in place more than a month now, but is it making a difference?
U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler says Operation Legend has been responsible for arresting 31 fugitives, confiscating more than 500 grams of heroin, seizing $1.39 million in drug money, and removing 87 guns from the streets of Indianapolis.
Community leader Dee Ross has earned a name for himself in his quest to make the far east side a better place through activism and a foundation. Ross often has an up-close view of the issues in the area. He said Operation Legend is not helping solve those problems.
"It's putting more law enforcement out here in the community. It's putting more federal agents out here in the community and is directly increasing the homicides," Ross said.
Ross says he's witnessed the scenes of two homicides near 42nd Street and Post just this week. It is his belief that adding police or even federal agents to patrol the area is not what the east side needs.
"That has never been the answer... what needs to be addressed is systemic poverty. This is an area that doesn't have a grocery store, this is an area that doesn't have a library. This is an area that doesn't have a public school anymore," Ross said.
Dr. Jeremy Carter is the director of criminal justice and public safety at the O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI. Dr. Carter agrees that adding police will not solve the ongoing problems.
"If you look at any urban place where the high crime locations are places that are void of good employment opportunities, food deserts, quality education, access to social services, and so forth. So, I totally agree with him that if you want to get to the root causes of these issues, that's what you have to focus on," Carter said.
When asked about Ross's observation that more policing means more crime, Carter says that's not the case.
"Do more cops equal more crime? They don't cause more crime or create more crime. They may account more or record more crime because they are in the area but the actual amount of crime is not going up," Carter said.
After Operation Legend wraps up at the end of the month, Ross is hoping city leaders come up with a long-term plan to heal the far east side.
"We gotta heal the wound, and we gotta really get to a point when we don't need them to come out here and do indictments and sweeps in our community," Ross said.