Feb 7, 2024 - News

Indy's plan to stop youth violence

Illustration of an outline where a gun should be held.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Indianapolis is creating a new position within city government aimed at curbing youth violence.

Why it matters: A record number of youths were shot and killed in Indianapolis last year, often by other young people.

The big picture: Overall, violent crime is trending downward — something city officials say is evidence that intervention efforts are working.

  • In 2022, the city started the Indianapolis Peace Fellowship — which works primarily with adults between the ages of 18 and 35 most at risk to be the victim or perpetrator of violence — to combat its growing gun violence problem.
  • Total gun deaths fell in 2022 and 2023.

What they're saying: "Seeing the decrease in overall criminal homicides, it was wonderful to see that our efforts were actually working in combination with IMPD and the community," deputy mayor Lauren Rodriguez told Axios.

Yes, but: Criminal homicides among young people bucked that trend and increased dramatically last year.

State of play: The city wants to replicate the success it has seen with the peace fellowship program with its youths.

The latest: The Office of Public Health and Safety is hoping to hire the new violence prevention officer within the next two months.

  • While the last few years have focused on intervening with people at risk for violence, this person will be focused full-time on preventing young people from reaching the point where they need intervention, said OPHS director Martine Romy Bernard-Tucker.

Between the lines: Bernard-Tucker said work will likely include partnering with schools to keep kids connected and in class, looking at things like structured summers and making sure that people can find ways to resolve their conflict without using a gun.

  • Talking to the community and evaluating the city's needs will also be part of the officer's work.

The bottom line: "Even if it's one youth that we're losing, it's too many," she said.


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