After deadly 2021, Indianapolis PD sets priorities for new year

More patrols, new tech and a better recruitment strategy are all on deck


By Lawrence Andrea
The Indianapolis Star

INDIANAPOLIS — On the heels of Indianapolis' most violent year on record, city and law enforcement officials Monday said they plan to continue many of the same crime-fighting initiatives they started in 2021.

This time, however, city leaders hope to start to see the fruits of an unprecedented, three-year investment into law enforcement resources and grassroots crime prevention efforts — namely $150 million of federal American Rescue Plan money approved by the City-County Council last year.

Homicide investigators survey the scene around a home in Indianapolis on Sunday, March 14, 2021, after four people, including a child, were found dead.
Homicide investigators survey the scene around a home in Indianapolis on Sunday, March 14, 2021, after four people, including a child, were found dead. (The Indianapolis Star)

"Although not simple to accomplish, the words are simpler: Our No. 1 priority in this police department is to reduce violent crime," Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Assistant Chief Chris Bailey told reporters. "It has been and will continue to be in 2022."

The comments came as the city nears the end of January that has seen 13 homicides as of early Monday afternoon. This time last year, the city recorded 20 killings, including the mass shooting on Adams Street that took the lives of five people and an unborn child.

Officials noted non-fatal shootings also were down by 40% this month compared to last year, adding that those shootings decreased in the last six months of 2021 as well. Still, Indianapolis tallied 271 homicides in 2021 — setting a record for the second consecutive year.

Similar priorities in 2022

Among the continued efforts from police is a focus on community engagement and building trust with residents. Chief Randal Taylor on Monday said the department in recent months has received "tremendous help from the community" when it comes to solving crimes.

"(It's) probably one of the things that I'm most impressed with and the most pleased with," Taylor said.

The department last year put an emphasis on foot patrols as a way to engage more with community members, logging more than 31,000 such patrols between April and December of last year, officials said. So far in January, officers have conducted 3,100 foot patrols.

Police also plan to continue holding community town halls in each district in which residents can speak with IMPD's leaders and ask questions. The first town hall this year will be held virtually Jan. 31 at the southeast district headquarters.

Officials on Monday told reporters the department also will continue to have a "laser focus" on the "small number of people and places" responsible for violent crime across the city. They noted that the department in April began what it calls an enhanced community safety initiative in which "proactive" teams of officers in the north, northwest and east districts patrol areas, where gun violence typically occurs.

Similarly, the department's Crime Guns Intelligence Center expanded last summer to a wider Indiana Crime Guns Task Force to make it easier for police to track weapons and suspects involved in violent crimes.

Collectively, those groups seized 1,141 guns and made 1,967 arrests in 2021, according to data from IMPD.

Technology and recruiting

The department plans to continue the rollout of additional surveillance cameras and automatic license plate readers in 2022, funded by a $9 million allocation of American Rescue Plan Act money.

IMPD in October said it planned to add about 350 cameras and 350 license plate readers to "high crime areas" and along major roads across the city, and in December police installed 10 license plate readers in the downtown area.

The department, officials said Monday, has not yet found a vendor for its planned pilot gunshot detection system, which IMPD hopes to have running later this year.

The news conference fell on the same day 35 new "peacemakers" were set to go into Indianapolis neighborhoods to identify people determined at-risk of becoming involved in violence.

That program, run through the Office of Public Health and Safety and funded by $37.5 million in ARPA funds, includes violence interrupters who aim to intervene in conflicts before they turn deadly and others who can connect people with wraparound services.

And, in addition to their plan to add 100 officers to its force, Indianapolis police have put an emphasis on recruiting. The department is offering a new $5,000 signing bonus to recruits and also will offer officers referral bonuses, officials said.

"What should be clear today," Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said Monday, "is the city's broad commitment to public safety to reverse the spike in deadly gun violence that our city experienced last year and the year before."

©2022 www.indystar.com. Visit indystar.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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