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Mayor Hogsett: ‘Peacemakers’ ready to hit Indianapolis streets

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — In October, city officials announced they were hiring 50 “peacemakers” to get out into the streets and interrupt crime on a grassroots level.

This technique is nothing new to Indianapolis, and Mayor Joe Hogsett told I-Team 8 a few months ago that he hopes to see results by the end of the year or sooner. 

This morning on News 8’s “Daybreak,” the mayor defended the use of peacemakers as a part of his overall crime prevention plan.  

“In years previous to this one, we have had anywhere from six to eight. Now when you can scale up and widen the scope to 50 — and their focus will be on disrupting and interrupting and reducing violence before it happens — so they will be working with people who are likely victims of gun violence or frankly likely to be perpetrators of gun violence,” the Democrat mayor said.

The city has a form of peacemakers in the streets now; they are called “interrupters.” They have, according to the local Office of Public Health and Safety, completed over 600 interruptions, meaning they stopped conflicts involving guns either immediately, before or while they were happening.  

That total “is a lot, so can you imagine we what will have when we have 50 individuals working toward this program,” said Lauren Rodriguez, director of the Office of Public Health and Safety.

The peacemakers are funded through American Rescue Plan money provided during the coronavirus pandemic, and, according to the city, the salary range is $51,800 to $58,800 a year.

The peacemakers are not part of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department but work through the Office of Public Health and Safety. The city plans to hire 15 more by the end of July.

Another component of the mayor’s crime reduction plan that he announced in October is the direct contact with people who have been identified as being at high risk of committing violent crimes. The Office of Public Health and Safety sent letters to 83 people, another 61 received a personal visit, and 42 were referred to services at a community-based organization for job training, education, or mental health assistance.

The city currently funds more than 50 grassroots crime reduction groups, and plans are to expand the funding and scope of organizations involved. 

There are questions on how well these programs are working after two record-breaking years for homicides.  

The president of the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police, Rick Snyder is questioning if this is money well spent. “The best visual is an upside-down funnel,” he said. “We are dumping all of these resources into the top end, but, because we have a prosecutor that is soft on crime, you are seeing all of this flowing out the bottom end, and you cannot keep up with the flow.”