I-Team 8

Indianapolis leaders call on state to help stop surge in violence

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Fraternal Order of Police President Rick Snyder and the Rev. Charles Harrison called on state lawmakers Wednesday to put forth new legislation that would help stop the surge in violence after Indianapolis has reached 248 homicides in 2021, an all-time record.

“It is embarrassing, embarrassing to have to be calling and seeking help from the state level,” Snyder said.

They presented a page full of legislative recommendations, including requiring a judicial review of probable cause affidavits before determining bonds and release. It’s something Snyder says may seem basic, but is in reality not happening.

“Our magistrates and our judges are working off of the charges that are on the arrest report,” Snyder said. “[For non-violent felonies], that’s an automatic $500 dollar cash bond and the suspect is released. That cannot continue.”  

Snyder says it’s time to reclassify certain non-violent felonies as violent ones. The following is a list provided by Snyder of crimes that are currently non-violent felonies in Indiana:

  • Battery
  • Criminal confinement
  • Criminal gang activity
  • Criminal recklessness
  • Escape
  • Intimidation
  • Pointing a firearm
  • Residential entry
  • Resisting law enforcement
  • Stalking
  • Strangulation

Legislative recommendations also included the following:

  • Requiring communication between county jails
  • Formalizing regulations for charitable bail organizations
  • From a Commission of Criminal Justice Outcomes that brings stakeholders to the table
  • Prevent automatic bond for repeat offenders

Snyder says he understands the justice system has been unfair to minority communities, but he says those are the communities that are suffering the most from the violence.

“We have been standing up as law enforcement professionals and saying their lives matter and we have an opportunities to intervene and protect them but the broken system and revolving door is emboldening offenders who are then taking their lives,” he said.

I-Team 8’s Jasmine Minor asked Snyder and Harrison if there are changes that need to happen, not just to the legal system, but policing itself, explaining that many communities of color have a lack of trust in police.

“I have two teenage children who were interested in going into law enforcement but after what happened a year and a half ago with the whole Black Lives Matter movement, the kids have no interest now,” Harrison said.

Harrison says he’s been working to help the Black community have more faith in those who are meant to protect them. The legislative recommendations include plans to “discuss in more detail” steps to “address overrepresentation/disparate outcomes in other arenas like mental health, addiction and infant/toddler/maternal mortality rates.”

“We’re trying to broaden the conversation,” Harrison said. “I think everybody’s concerned about the level of violence in the city, trying to find the solutions to it in a way that’s fair and equitable for everyone, is what we are rationally now.” 

I-Team 8 reached out to Mayor Joe Hogsett’s office for a response to claims local elected officials have not done enough to stop the violence. The Mayor’s office gave the following statement:

“[We] refer you to Mayor Hogsett’s $150 million plan to invest in law enforcement, grassroots violence reduction, and root causes, which was made possible by American Rescue Plan Act funding unanimously passed by the City-County Council in September.

The plan includes record spending for 100 new police officers, $9 million for modern police technology, 50 community-oriented Peacemakers, $45 million for grassroots organizations, $30 million for mental health resources, and more. The comprehensive approach was created through collaboration with law enforcement and criminal justice partners, reflecting the needs and priorities of community members.”