NewsPublic AffairsGovernment / July 7, 2014

Neighbors Tell IMPD We "Got Their Backs"

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Sam Klemet
Neighbors Tell IMPD We "Got Their Backs"

About a dozen Indianapolis police officers convened at the corner of Ohio and Randolph streets on the city’s eastside Monday night.

They came together with residents of the neighborhood for a roll call in an effort to build relationships; and after a violent weekend, including a shooting that claimed the life of one of their own, the IMPD officers were happy to be responding to a call of thanks, not terror.

The roll call was planned weeks ago, but as East District Capt. Craig Fishburn explains, the event carried extra significance coming just days after fellow IMPD Officer Perry Renn was shot and killed in the line of duty.

"It is different in a way because of this weekend's tragedy with the death of Officer Renn," said Fishburn.  "The officers are here with a heavy heart.  They continue to respond to those dangerous situations on a nightly basis and it's due to their professionalism and commitment to serving the community."

To show their appreciation, residents like DJ Jimenez came out to say thanks to the officers who put their lives on the line every night.

She says the violence of this past weekend is felt throughout the entire city.

"We all are personally affected even if it doesn't happen directly to us because we will drive by where something has happened every day," she said.  "We've got to just be more aware. We've got to come together.  We've got to get to know our neighbors, if that is an option.  We've just got to do something."

So for a few hours Monday night, Jimenez and about 50 others shared food, conversation, and time with those officers who work in the neighborhood near Willard Park.

Part of the event included the neighbors giving a flower to each of the officers before they went out on their nightly run.

City County Councilor Zach Adamson helped organize the event and says after what happened in Broad Ripple, where seven people were shot and the killing of officer Renn, it was important that the community show solidarity with the police department.

"We really felt it was important to show the police that this community, especially communities on the eastside, have got their backs and they are not alone and we are watching out for them and we appreciate what they do for us," he said.

Following Officer Renn’s shooting, Department of Public Safety Directory Troy Riggs said 60 percent of shooting victims refuse to cooperate with police, which is why Capt. Fishburn says the large turnout Monday was especially gratifying, not only because it showed support for the officers, but also helps establish relationships.

"The officers can see firsthand the people that they serve - the neighbors here in this area - talk to them, get to know them, find out what concerns they have that possibly the police department can address," said Fishburn.

Stacey Jingles, 44, says residents in the neighborhood are ready to open the lines of communication with police.

"Because I don't think they have too many friendships with the police," he said.  "I think this was a great opportunity to get to know the officers."

Jingles lives across the street from where the roll call was held and has experienced violence in the area first hand. 

Seventeen years ago, he was shot in the neck and had to be revived.  He also was a victim of arson, has seen stabbings and robberies, and his son was one of the people shot this past weekend in Broad Ripple.

He thinks having events like the one Monday creates a level of trust between neighbors and police.

"If I don't know this officer, just because I call for help, don't mean I've got to trust him," said Jingles.  "The neighborhood and the community need trust with officers because they are the ones that protect and serve us.  So, for them to be here and take their time to have roll call here with us, that's exactly what, I think, Willard Park really needed."

So, on a week where both officers and residents have been torn apart by violence, the corner of Ohio and Randolph, Monday, represented healing and rebuilding together, as one.