INDIANAPOLIS — Some families grieving the loss of their loved ones in Indianapolis are feeling a sense of hope after a recent protest. “I can say I feel like they genuinely listened, and they want to try to change it,” Melissa Jude said.
Jude’s 20-year-old son Chandler Bussey was killed in June of 2020 at Arsenal Park. Since that day, Jude has felt a wide range of emotions as she processes her grief. On top of that, she says she has had a difficult time getting in touch with the homicide detective on her son’s case.
Through support groups, Jude has met with other mothers who have lost children to violence in Indianapolis. She says each one shares a similar story when it comes to getting in contact with IMPD detectives. “They didn’t feel like they had a voice, so they are glad there’s some moms that have decided to join together and start bringing light to it because they felt all alone,” she said.
On January 4th, Jude and other grieving families held a peaceful protest outside of the City County Building in downtown Indianapolis. Their goal was to send a message to city leaders about the challenges they are facing and their concerns regarding their love one’s cases.
Just over a week after the protest, Jude had a meeting with a captain with IMPD’s homicide unit and a manager with victim assistance.
WRTV reached out to IMPD to see if any changes will come as a result of the meeting. A spokeswoman says these type of interactions with families spur a re-dedication to the protocols in place, specifically the Family Contact Protocol.
In the protocol it states, starting with 2019 cases, homicides that have not been cleared by arrest or exceptionally cleared are to have at least quarterly documented family contacts each year for the first two years the case remains unsolved, followed by one contact per year every year thereafter, near the anniversary date.
The only contact the protocol states must be done by the assigned detective is the initial contact, after that it may be done by the assigned detective or designated civilian employees.
The spokeswoman also said since the protest and meeting, a new protocol dealing with the victim assistance unit is being developed. Work is being done to ensure chaplains and victim assistance personnel are called to more homicide scenes with an aim to connect with as many families as possible.
In cases where they are not able to respond to the scene, they are trying to develop a system to ensure the chaplains and victim assistance employees receive next-of-kin information in a more timely manner.
Jude left the meeting feeling hopeful moving forward, with her focus remaining on getting justice for her son. “They listened. They apologized to me and to all the parents for leaving us feeling like we’ve been let down and they don’t care.” Jude said.