INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Federal authorities are stepping in to combat surging gun violence in Indianapolis with increased law enforcement presence, police overtime pay and reward money for tips.
“Operation Legend,” a multi-city initiative led by federal law enforcement agencies, will expand to Indianapolis, officials announced Friday.
57 federal agents will be sent to Indianapolis for 45 days to assist local efforts in tamping down illegal gun sales, gang activity, armed drug trafficking, domestic violence involving guns and other contributing factors to deadly violence.
Indianapolis has seen at least 144 homicides this year, up more than 50% from Aug. 2019.
“That number is unacceptable,” Mayor Joe Hogsett said Friday during a joint press conference with Josh Minkler, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.
“The rise could be the result of any number of unprecedented occurrences in 2020: A spike in gun purchases, an economy impacted by closures and restrictions, a decrease in face-to-face outreach in the hardest hit neighborhoods [or] boredom,” the mayor said.
He welcomed federal assistance and said partnerships fostered by Operation Legend would not halt the city’s investment in community-based crime reduction efforts.
Charles Harrison, an Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition leader, said he supported additional police funding and increased law enforcement presence in local neighborhoods.
“Neighborhoods of color are disproportionately impacted by this violence,” he told News 8. “We have to have a level of police presence in these neighborhoods. We can address some of the other concerns that people have about policing without defunding [the police].”
Harrison said he was hopeful federal partners would remain communicative with neighborhood groups.
Members of the recently formed City of Peace Coalition met with Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) officials ahead of Friday’s announcement.
Community leaders urged authorities to communicate with residents before dispatching federal agents to their neighborhoods, according to Harrison.
Operation Legend, which is named for a 4-year-old boy shot and killed in Kansas City, also provides up to $25,000 in reward money for information leading to an arrest in an unsolved Indianapolis homicide.
Anyone with information about the drive-by shooting death of De’Shaun Swanson, 10, is urged to call the FBI Indianapolis Field Office at (317) 595-4000 or Crime Stoppers at (317) 262-TIPS.
The shooting was reported Sept. 19, 2015 around 8:30 p.m. in the 3900 block of Graceland Avenue.