INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — During the day the downtown canal area is a safe place to run, walk and bike or take a leisurely paddle boat ride through the heart of downtown.
At night, the Canal Walk can become a different place. Jorrell Campbell, of Indianapolis, says if you keep to yourself, you will be fine.
“Nighttime, as long as you mind your business and stop trying to start stuff, then you will be all right,” said Campbell.
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Monday night in the cover of darkness, four young men robbed an Indianapolis couple at gunpoint. The suspects got away with a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. The robbery happened less than 200 yards from a permanently installed IMPD surveillance camera on the Ohio Street bridge.
In response, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Cmdr. Phil Burton says the Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development will begin paying for two officers to patrol the area at night. Metropolitan Development works with other city agencies to plan the future of Indianapolis, increase job opportunities, develop affordable homes, and encourage businesses to invest in the community, according to the city’s website.
“They have hired some officers from 10 at night to 5:30 in the morning, and then they are going to assess that after probably about a month to see exactly how that ended up in terms of enforcement — what we actually got out this,” Burton said.
Metropolitan Development owns 77% of the canal. The balance is owned by the White River State Park Commission and the city of Indianapolis. The Canal Walk area is patrolled by Indiana State Police, Capital Police and IMPD. The two officers will be paid around $55 an hour and are considered “off duty.”
“I think what our officers are seeing is what we know, right? What works in the face of violence is a greater police presence, better lighting and the use of other technology, like security cameras,” Rick Snyder of the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police said.
IMPD has a temporary surveillance camera near the Walnut Street bridge, with plans for additional cameras. Some of those will be monitored in real time along with improved or repaired lights along the canal.
“As we consistently say, ‘As your downtown goes, so goes your city. As the city goes, so goes central Indiana,'” said Snyder.
The money for these officers is not coming from IMPD’s budget and they will not be a permanent addition to the downtown district. There are plans to add permanent cameras on the Indiana Avenue and Walnut Street bridges.