Victims of non-fatal shootings in Indianapolis have been reluctant to provide law enforcement with information about who shot them.
In recent years, about 50 percent of non-fatal shooting victims would give information, said Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears. Now that number has dropped to 30 percent. Mears said it’s likely due to mistrust between the community and law enforcement which has intensified over the past year.
“I think it's important to remember that not too long ago, we literally had 10,000 people standing outside the city county building, protesting criminal justice issues and the law enforcement community,” Mears said. “And we haven't healed those wounds.”
Mears said victims of non-fatal shootings are reluctant to give authorities any information, including who committed the crime, where it happened and what the suspect or their vehicle looked like.
Many victims of these crimes know the person who shot them, Mears said, and some victims may think they can take the situation into their own hands. But Mears cautioned that it can create a cycle of crime.
“As a consequence, because we're not in a position to solve a lot of these cases, what we're seeing is this cycle of retaliatory violence, where people have made the decision that they're going to handle these disputes themselves, which is why I think one of the reasons why we've seen such a dramatic increase in that are violent crime,” Mears said.
To address this issue, Mears said his office has been investing in programming to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community and prevent people from entering the criminal justice system. For example, earlier this summer Mears announced that his office would not file charges against juveniles who are first-time offenders of minor crimes, and instead pay for their membership at a local Boys and Girls Club.
Samone Burris, a public information officer with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, said when information is released about a case, IMPD now includes direct contact numbers and emails of detectives assigned to the incident in hopes that members of the public will come forward.
Burris said community members can also call the Crime Stoppers of Central Indiana if they wish to remain anonymous.