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City will award crime prevention grants based on need in each city-county council district

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Indianapolis will adjust its crime prevention efforts by allocating grants according to which city-county districts have the greatest needs.

The Council District Crime Prevention Grants Program will support new or existing projects, services and programs that show potential to reduce crime in Marion County. Grants range from $500 to $4,000.

The pilot program launched at the end of March, and applications are open until April 30. The Indianapolis Foundation, an affiliate of Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF), will administer the program.

Indianapolis has awarded crime and violence prevention grants for years, including at least $2.3 million each of the last three reporting years, according to CICF.

Violent crime has dipped, but criminal homicides were up by nearly 40% in 2020 to a record high 215.

How it works

The idea behind the program is an acknowledgement that violence is more prevalent in some areas of Marion County than others.

“Crime and violence don’t affect neighborhoods across our city equally,” LeRoy Robinson, chair of the council’s Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee, said in a press release, “but our past efforts to prevent violence and criminal activity have not always reflected that reality.”

The Polis Center at IUPUI provides district-level data to show where the need for more funding is. Each district is rated on a scale from zero to 100. The highest scores are in districts that surround downtown to the west, north and east, as well as the far east and northeast sides.

Districts in the top tier, with a score above 80, will each receive $40,000. The money will come from the $3 million the Office of Public Health and Safety allots for crime prevention grants each year.

Every council member had the opportunity to select funding priorities. Councilor Keith Graves, for example, identified employment and high school education completion for District 13.

Will it work?

The Council District Crime Prevention Grants Program is a different delivery method but not a total deviation from what the city has been doing.

There have been studies of how effective the city’s crime and violence prevention grants programs are, but it’s a mixed bag of positive signs and inconclusive results.

A study from the Indiana University Public Policy Institute analyzed four of the five awardees from 2018 and found a statistically significant decrease in murders, armed robberies and dispatched calls for police service in the three zip codes that included the most participants.

A study from the public policy institute and Wayne State University in Detroit said there wasn’t enough data to make an informed conclusion about various outcomes for participants, including arrests and employment.

Now, the city is banking on getting better results by letting some areas take precedent because of the specific crime issues there.

“The opportunities and challenges Indianapolis has in regards to preventing crime are specific to each neighborhood and community,” Alicia Collins, director of community leadership at CICF, said in a press release. “What works in one neighborhood might not be the best approach in another. There is no one-size-fits-all.”

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

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