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Community members and IMPD collaborate to reduce crime

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Many factors such as poverty and infrastructure make up the crime rate in Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) districts. Although police departments are tasked with keeping citizens safe, it’s not just a police effort, which is why IMPD collaborated with community members last year to form Community Resource District Councils (CRDC).

The six councils address violent crime by creating community programs such as a youth chess club, educating people on gun laws — especially those returning from prison — and sharing crime trends with IMPD as well as offer advice on how to best police the neighborhood. Each council is independent and elects members from its district. Although the councils are in IMPD districts and have a symbiotic relationship with the department, the councils are also separate entities from the law enforcement agency. 

“The chief of police believes that the fundamental way to solve homicides and crime in the neighborhoods is based on communities, based on people in the neighborhoods coming together,” said IMPD Sgt. Matthew Steward, who is the facilitator for CRDCs. 

Chief Bryan Roach proposed CRDCs in March 2017 as a way to address violence, particularly gun crime. Throughout 2018, IMPD searched for people who are community-minded, longtime residents and passionate about the neighborhood to lead the councils.

“The chief, Bryan Roach, recognized that not every community is the same,” Steward said. “Some strategies that work on the east side will not work on the west side, and what happens downtown in a business sector might be completely different from what happens in north district.”

CRDCs often act as a bridge between the community and police. For example, LeRoy Lewis III, chair of the Northwest Community District Council, said his council collaborated with IMPD to release accurate information to prevent gossip and hearsay from spreading following the Aaron Bailey shooting. 

In addition to connecting IMPD to the neighborhood, CRDCs also alert police to crime trends in the area. For example, Southeast CRDC uncovered a trend of criminals arranging purchases through websites such as Craigslist then robbing and possibly assaulting the seller. As a result, IMPD created safe swap zones, designated areas where people can safely exchange goods, in police buildings.

“We feel that if you can keep yourself from being a victim, then you have reduced crime,” Chris Stabb, co-chair of the Northeast CRDC, said. “If you can find ways of providing resources to those that don’t know about them, that has a way of reducing crime.”

In addition to collaborating with IMPD and crime reduction, another major component of CRDCs is crime prevention. For example, Northwest CRDC, as part of its youth outreach, is creating a summer chess club program for youth at Frank Young Park. Lewis believes the program solves two problems: it adds an additional activity in the park and provides recreation over the summer. The chess program not only offers a way to keep children out of trouble, the game develops critical thinking skills. 

 

“We cannot attack violence head on as an officer could,” Lewis said. “… We decided that our task and our charge was to try to do it from a preventative standpoint.”

 

Contact staff writer Ben Lashar at 317-762-7848. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminLashar.

 

Want to get involved?

Currently, each Community Resource District Council meets at least once a month. Each follows a different schedule. To get in contact with your local CRDC, contact Sgt. Matthew Steward at 317-327-3334 or crdc@indy.gov. 

Indianapolis has six Community Resource District Councils, one for each IMPD district. Council leaders address violent crime in their district. Above are members of the Northwest Community Resource District Council. (Photo Provided)

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