INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The work is hard, and it can be dangerous. Violence interrupters are set to formally hit the streets this week, in some of Indianapolis’ hard-hit neighborhoods.
Shane Shepherd knows everybody’s name and face in this Indy neighborhood. Growing up in these streets, he’s built personal relationships over the years.
“I’ve been knowing this community so well, I can tell when cars are riding around, circling blocks. I can tell when you’re not from around here.” Shane Shepherd, a violence interrupter and Founder/CEO of B4ufall explained.
When he heard six people were killed in a shooting in another part of town Sunday, it left him feeling: “It was unexplainable. It was something that I couldn’t even, as a person that knows the streets well, I couldn’t even wrap my mind around what would make one or two or several individuals murder that many people from that many different age groups.”
Shepherd is one of six people the city is training right now to become “violence interrupters.” They’re contracted by the nonprofit Indy Public Safety Foundation. They work to directly stop cycles of violence among at-risk people aged 16-35.
“How we interrupt that violence is by trying to create situations where you don’t have as many barriers in life. So, most of the people that commit these crimes are disenfranchised or justice-involved,” Shepherd said.
Creating those situations takes trust and respect, which the interrupters spent years earning in the streets. They build real relationships and just want to be a dependable resource for people who need them the most.
“Take you on an interview. Take you somewhere where and get you a feel good for the day. Get you a haircut, get you cleaned up. Get you caught up on child support, get your license back to help you with the prosecutor’s office. Anything that we can do to show you, ‘Hey man, you have a friend in this situation. Maybe in your next decision, think about me when you’re about to make that.’ That’s what my job is,” Shepherd said.
With the goal of saving lives and helping people transform theirs.
Shepherd told News 8 that there is a community event this weekend to have people in that 16-35 age range who are affected by violence to sign up for needed services and even on-the-spot hiring for some jobs.
The event is sponsored by the group Big HOMIES of America and is a partnership with Barnes United Methodist Church, Indy Ten Point Coalition, Edna Martin Christian Center and and the city of Indianapolis Office of Public Health and Safety.
The event will be at Barnes United Methodist Church, 900 W. 30th Street from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The enrollment period is from 1-3 p.m. Shepherd said anyone ages 16-35 who has been affected by violence is welcome to attend the later session.