Indianapolis breaks homicide record as man found fatally shot
Police plan to place hundreds of surveillance cameras and license plate readers in high-crime neighborhoods throughout the city
By Lawrence Andrea
The Indianapolis Star
INDIANAPOLIS — 246.
That's the number of people who have been killed by someone else in the city of Indianapolis so far in 2021. And it's the most ever in a single year.
Indianapolis on Saturday passed its all-time record of 245 total homicides set last year. The number of homicides has increased steadily since at least 2012, with a dip in 2019 before a steep increase in killings in 2020 and now 2021.
The city's latest deaths came after a nine-day period without any homicides — the longest streak this year, according to an IndyStar analysis of homicide data.
On Friday, a man was shot and killed at a northwest side apartment complex. On Saturday, a man died on the city's south side, in the 3100 block of Harlan Street. Indianapolis Metropolitan Police officers responded to the neighborhood, near East Troy Avenue and South Keystone Avenue, about 1 a.m. and found the man shot and killed inside a vehicle.
Few other details have been released in those deaths, as of Saturday, and the men have yet to be identified.
The city in early November broke its criminal homicide record for the second consecutive year. Criminal homicides do not include those made in self-defense, shootings by police ruled justified or accidental killings.
The rising violence has been felt across Indianapolis and has left city leaders searching for answers.
The city-county budget for 2022 includes $295 million for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, and nearly one-third of the city's federal COVID relief funding will go toward public safety. That $150 million of Indianapolis' American Rescue Plan funding will support a three-year anti-violence effort, and IMPD will receive $33 million of that sum — $9 million of which will be allocated to technology additions.
Police plan to place hundreds of surveillance cameras and license plate readers in high-crime neighborhoods throughout the city and announced they will pilot a gunshot detection system in the next year.
[RELATED: How to buy license plate readers eBook]
The City-County Council also has poured tens of millions of dollars into community crime prevention grant programs.
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett has pointed to "COVID-fueled disruptions" to violence reduction work as a factor in the continued violence. Indianapolis' first violence reduction director Shonna Majors, who resigned earlier this month amid the record killings, also highlighted the pandemic as having an impact on violence prevention work.
IMPD Chief Randal Taylor in an interview with IndyStar Wednesday suggested the COVID has exasperated some of the other root causes of violence in the city.
"As the pandemic wanes, are those numbers going to go down automatically?" Taylor said. "A lot of people talk to me about systemic issues that exist ... This may be the perfect storm of the existence of those systemic issues and the pandemic coming together at once."
Taylor noted that driving down the homicide rate largely hinges on the community.
Community members, he said, should be "having conversations with their kids, their neighbors about the preciousness of life, the importance of respecting one another and not making rash decisions that are going to impact suspects for many years to come, for a lifetime."
Kristine Phillips contributed to this report.