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IMPD creates new family contact protocol for loved ones of homicide victims

Posted at 6:45 PM, Jun 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-15 11:32:00-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department has heard from plenty of families frustrated about the lack of contact from police during a homicide investigation. Now, the department is making a change for the families who have lost loved ones to violence.

It's been six years since Marquerita Swinton's son was killed in Indianapolis. Her son, Tarence Swinton, just 19-years-old and in his first year of college when he was gunned down near 8th Street and Keystone Avenue.

"I cry more than I laugh. His birthday is coming up on the 28th; it's bittersweet," Swinton said. "I already know we try to remember the good times, but why aren't there more good times?"

In the beginning, Swinton had hope that there would be justice in his case, but the dream faded as the years passed.

"They used to contact me the first few months and then I would contact them monthly. Until it went into a cold case and then no one was notifying," Swinton said of her son's homicide investigation.

This is a concern family of homicide victims all across the city share.

"The number one complaint for the homicide branch has been contact, or lack of contact with the detectives," Roger Spurgeon, Homicide Branch Commander for IMPD, said.

In efforts to address these concerns, Cpt. Spurgeon says a brand new family contact protocol is now in place.

You can view the new protocol here:

Family Contact Protocol (Text)

"Starting with this year's cases, 2019 cases families, should be getting four homicide initiated contacts per year," Cpt. Spurgeon said.

"I think it is important to have this policy in place for future mothers and fathers or future victims," Derris Ross, Founder and CEO of 'The Ross Foundation,' said.

Ross says he's been working with IMPD for three years on this plan. However, he did not do it alone.

Women from the support group 'A Mother's Cry' helped.

"It's heartbreaking when I hear the stories from some of the moms," Ieshia Webster Harris, Program Coordinator of A Mother's Cry, said. "It's heartbreaking to lose your child, and call to get answers and you can't get them."

Swinton is part of A Mother's Cry, a group for mothers that have lost children to violence. She says the protocol is a step in the right direction.

"It's lovely they are putting it in place," Swinton said. "I wish it would have been in place and during the first two years of it might have helped comfort me a little bit better."

Homicide detectives also have a flyer to hand out to family members of homicide victims. The hope is to be able to answer questions they may have during the investigative process.

Homicide QA Flyer (Text)

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