NewsPublic Affairs / April 7, 2014

Efforts to Curb Indy's Violence Taking Time

Sam Klemet

The city’s murder rate is outpacing 2013, which was Indy’s deadliest in six years.  There have been 43 murders in Indianapolis this year, compared to 32 at the same time last year.

Light of the World Christian Church Pastor David Hampton is hosting a community conversation, Tuesday, to hear what the city’s youth want and need to feel safe on the streets. 

"Three questions we are mainly going to ask ‒ if you could name two things you'd want the powers to be to know about crime, what will they be? Number two, describe what you love about Indianapolis and the third question, in one word describe what crime is doing to our city," said Hampton.  "I think those three questions answered by young people and hearing the insight of young people will be very profound."

Hampton is expecting about 200 to 500 young people to attend.   He says city leaders are well intentioned in their efforts, but thinks they sometimes lose sight of connecting with young people.

"The primary age of those committing the homicides is really 18 to 35," he said. "If we would hear from them, we might find better solutions than concocting what we think would be better solutions to the problems.  Because, obviously all of the press conferences and all the planning and programming is not working, so far."

It’s the second in a series of community conversations.

Brian Payne of the Central Indiana Community Foundation helped put together the first, two weeks ago.  He says a more active city means a safer one.

"Everything is better when you have a community partnership," he said.   "Everything is better when people who are passionate about their neighborhoods get involved and be part of the solution.  So, I am encouraged by the process."

The conversations fall in line with a plan released by Mayor Greg Ballard and community leaders, last month.

While some work is underway, Ballard insists it’s going to be awhile before the resources are fully in place.  Payne says that is not uncommon.

"I'm sure there is some frustration.  There is concern.  But, these problems aren't problems that got caused in the last year.  They are problems that have been trending for years and years and years," he said.  "The solutions are more complicated because it has to be a systematic approach."

He says the approach won’t be effective with quick fixes and needs to include addressing long term issues such as early childhood education.

Hampton is calling for more programs and centers for youth such as YMCA’s and Boys and Girls Clubs.

"There used to be a number of youth activities.  We don't see very much of that any more," he said.  "If we've seen this kind of violence in the winter time when the weather has been cold, I am almost afraid to see what's going to happen when it warms up."

Tuesday’s conversation begins at Light of the World Christian Church at 6 p.m.