Crime in Indianapolis is down 5 percent this year, and robberies are down 15 percent. But the city is on pace to set a new record for criminal homicides, and the number of non-fatal shootings hasn't changed in years.
Those findings are from a crime and public safety report presented Tuesday by city and police officials.
IMPD Chief Bryan Roach says IMPD has increased its focus on solving crimes. It’s ramped up usage of NIBIN, a shell casing forensics tool, and preparing to create a Crime Gun Intelligence Center, an inter-agency collaboration on criminal investigations.
IMPD also plans to use grant money from the Department of Justice to hire professional analysts.
Roach says homicide clearance rates rose from 42 percent last year to 65 percent in 2018. And arrests made in homicide cases are up 49 percent.
“That’s significant," Roach says. "I think it sends a message. And it’s not only police work, but it’s also community and being better engaged, and people talking to us."
The city's effort to better communicate with residents took two major forms this year – $300,000 in funding for the city's first witness protection program, and the hiring of the city's first Director of Community Violence Reduction, who oversees a group of "Indy Peacemakers" who work with people in high-crime areas.
Roach says the department "is struggling, like the nation, to hire people," and emphasized the city’s push to hire more officers.
He also talked about IMPD's transition to beat policing. He says too many officers are responsible for large geographic areas, which makes their jobs difficult.
“But you put that same officer in a smaller geographic area and it’s much easier for a commander to hold that officer accountable," Roach says. "It’s much easier for that officer to hold himself accountable and know what’s going on.”
The city has 78 police beats right now. Roach says they want to get to at least 120 in 2019.