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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

A hard look at policing in our city

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Colorblind is not a good goal

At a time when community members are calling for defunding, reimagining and restructuring the police department and less police, through Operation Legend the federal government is sending the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshals Service, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — more police — to target violent gangs, gun crime and drug trafficking organizations for 45 days. 

In addition, Mayor Joe Hogsett increased funding for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department by $7 million for 2021, and the police department will also receive $250,000 from Operation Legend.

Are government officials listening? These actions seem to go in the opposite direction of what the community — or at least a segment of the community — wants. Maybe, government officials are listening, but they’re listening to a different group of people.

For those most affected by the policies, though, it seems to be more of the same when it comes to decreasing crime. The fear of Indianapolis becoming a police state is on the minds of many. 

That’s one side of the coin. 

At the same time, however, homicides in Indianapolis continue to increase. There’s no denying it’s a concern for Black residents of Indianapolis and law enforcement. It’s not unusual to hear about multiple shootings or homicides during any given weekend. Part of the job of police is to get criminals off the street.

That’s the other side of the coin.

How do we reconcile these disparate points of view? How do we create a city where all residents feel safe and protected from criminals — and police maltreatment and brutality?

The Recorder hopes to find some answers to these questions and more through a series of articles that examines policing in our city. Throughout the series, which starts in this week’s edition, we will try to answer some of the concerns we’ve heard from the community about the police. And, we’ve heard a lot. I’m sure you have too. You may even have some concerns. We want to hear those concerns, so contact the newsroom and tell us.

Many of these concerns aren’t new. The distrust and mistrust between the Black community and the police is a longstanding issue. One series of articles won’t build trust, but we hope it’s one part of the dialogue that helps create change in our city.

The time is ripe for change. I can’t remember a time in my life when there’s been momentum of this magnitude to solve this centuries-old issue. Articles about policing have been done before, but the recent protests — and the response of and interaction with police — spurred a new desire to delve deeply into the matter. When we decided to do these articles we had no idea that a week before the first one was to appear, two major announcements would be made regarding policing. These announcements will impact our reporting.

The first article in this series discusses the issue of reimagining the police force. We interviewed experts to get their take on what needs to happen to bridge the gap between community and police.

By the way, today would be a good day to arrest those responsible for killing Breonna Taylor.

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