I-Team 8

Many question mayor’s plan to spend $45M on grassroots crime prevention

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett’s proposal to fund grassroots crime prevention is nothing new; the city has funded a number of these groups for decades.

But, there’s been a major shift from crime intervention to crime prevention. 

Hogsett told I-Team 8 recently that he hoped to see some results from what he calls the largest crime-prevention investment in the city’s history by next year. Part of the investment the mayor is making is $45 million to grassroots organizations.

Rick Snyder, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 86, questions if that will be money well-spent.

“What we have seen in the last several years is a dramatic shift away from that model and, instead, trying to make political agendas the objective in policing,” Snyder said. 

Snyder says one of the most successful grassroots groups in Indianapolis is the Ten Point Coalition. The neighborhood patrolled by Ten Point on a regular basis has some of the lowest crime rates in the city. Instead, the city is modeling their grassroots program after the Peacemakers program in Oakland, California.  

“Indianapolis has publicly said they are following the Oakland model for intervention and de-escalation in policing. Go look at Oakland; it is a city in disaster. Why would we say we are following that model? I can tell you that the city that has the model to follow is Indianapolis in the late 1990s during the Weed and Seed program,” Snyder said.

James Wilson is a longtime community activist and the chief executive officer of Circle Up Indy. His work involves food pantries, housing issues and crime. He is a passionate advocate for mental health issues, and he questions the path the city has chosen.  

“A lot of investment it is more than just dollars — it is psychological. You are really going to have to … bring a lot of psychological resources, especially to the black community, because a lot times we don’t (admit that we) have mental health problems because of the stigma,” Wilson said.

Wilson says that economic trauma is another leading cause of violence in the city. His organization is not funded by the city or the mayor’s office, though they have applied for crime prevention grants in the past. Wilson says the adoption of the Peacemakers’ platform is not the right direction for the city and will not deliver the results the city is looking for.  

 “No, it is not. I’m going to be honest with you: They are taking on a challenge they don’t understand,” Wilson said.

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