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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Mayor announces early education and public safety initiative

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Calling the recent trend of violence a plague on society, Mayor Greg Ballard introduced an initiative containing a holistic approach to making Indy a safer place to live and work.

“We, as a society, can no longer keep doing the same things over and over again and expect different results,” said Ballard. “Crime in American cities is a symptom of larger societal problems. My plan will address the larger issues by investing in pre-school, helping dropouts and those expelled from school, adding more police officers and stopping the revolving door of criminals who keep committing crimes and getting re-arrested in Indy.”

Earlier this year the bi-partisan IMPD Staffing Commission, created by the City-County Council, recommended a funding model to provide sustainable funding to hire new IMPD Officers. That proposal will be introduced to the City-County Council for consideration at its next meeting on Aug. 18. In his address at Old City Hall, Ballard outlined a plan to use that funding to both hire new officers and address the societal issues that lead to poverty and crime.

Mayor Ballard believes the issue of crime and violence are tied to three buckets of responsibility – prevention, protection and punishment. He plans to address issues within the buckets.

Prevention

  • Nearly double pre-school scholarships and expand eligibility for low-income families.
  • Help students who have been expelled, suspended or drop out of school.
  • Change Indy’s curfew ordinance.
  • Expand conflict resolution training through Peace Learning Center and Indy Parks.
  • Launch regional heroin awareness campaign.

Indianapolis will become one of five communities to participate in a new Early Childhood Education pilot program. The program will use $25 million over five years to double the number of children who receive pre-school scholarships. The city will partner with the United Way of Central Indiana to serve approximately 1,300 children a year whose families would qualify for the school free lunch program. Funds would also be made available to increase the number of high-quality pre-school programs, particularly in impoverished neighborhoods.

The city is also developing a new charter school, The Francis Marion Academy, to better serve students who are detained in the juvenile center.

Mayor Ballard and many other community leaders are calling on the City-County Council to make the curfew for 15-17 year old residents 11 p.m. every night unless accompanied by a parent or guardian or going to or from work, school or church function.

Protection

  • Hire 280 new IMPD officers by 2018.
  • Encourage people to report people illegally possessing guns to CrimeStoppers.
  • Acquire a full-time SWAT team.

It has been proposed to hire 280 additional officers by using the increase in the Public Safety Income Tax recommended by the Council’s bi-partisan IMPD Staffing Commission. This hiring would increase IMPD staffing to the highest number in the history of the department by 2018.

A few months ago, Indy became one of only a few cities its size to designate a full-time IMPD SWAT team. Previously the SWAT team contained officers from many beats and units who were called-in on an as-needed basis. IMPD’s new full-time SWAT team now deploys in uniform and undercover to make neighborhoods safer.

Punishment

  • Urge state to enact mandatory minimum sentence of 20-years for criminals who use a gun.
  • Invest up to $10 million for courts, prosecutors, probation and community corrections.

The IMPD Staffing Commission recommends an increase in the Public Safety Income Tax by 0.15 percent and elimination of the Local Homestead Tax Credit. If the Council approves both of these proposals, the average Indy resident would pay an additional $7.16 per month in taxes.

Mayor Ballard earlier this year announced the “Your Life Matters” campaign to bring together community leaders to address some of the broader problems that lead to criminal activity. The task force, being co-chaired by Tanya Bell of Indiana Black Expo and Jamal Smith of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, is working on a program to increase mentoring, summer jobs programs, parental assistance and school dropout/expulsion issues. The group is to prepare a report to the Mayor due in late October.

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