Butler-Tarkington neighborhood goes 1 year without a homicide

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – It’s been one year since the last murder in the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood.

Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition often cites the neighborhood as a gauge of the success of its programs in slowing violent crime and an example of what could happen for the rest of the city.

The city reached a record of 271 homicides in 2021. Indianapolis Metro Police Department has arrested 75 people so far in those cases.

The Rev. Charles Harrison, president of Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition, told News 8 the bottom-up approach is working and the group is seeing success. He adds that violence reduction has been a partnership between Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and the community, including grassroots organizations such as the coalition.

“There wasn’t that barrier there. We were working together and everyone played their part,” Harrison said. “We saw the community working close together with law enforcement.”

Members walk the streets to help keep the peace

On weeknights, you can find members of Ten Point walking the streets in Butler-Tarkington, bundled up and embracing the cold.

Member Anthony Neal has lived in the neighborhood for 20 years and said he’s joined the group after seeing a rise in crime.

“Everybody was moving out, heavily drug-infested, lots of shootings,” Neal said.

However, not anymore.

“You see people walking the streets and enjoy being in the neighborhood. When I first got here, it was moreso like a prisoner in your own home and now I’ve seen the change. I’ve seen the change,” Neal said.

The final straw

The murder of DeShaun Swanson, a 10-year-old boy, was the final straw for the community back in October 2015. The Butler-Tarkington Neighborhood Association called Ten Point to step in shorty after.

“They informed us that this was the fourth shooting they have had in less than two months and they talked to us about the possibility of coming into the neighborhood and helping,” said Harrison.

It’s been boots on the ground since then. The coalition is made up of religious leaders, former gang members and ex-convicts. Some still have street cred and are helping gain trust in the community.

“You have to have the community trust if you want to solve issues because what people don’t know, the community knows,” Neal said.

Harrison mentioned their efforts has helped indict two gangs from the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood.

“Our job is how do we keep little Charles alive? How do we keep him alive? And then how can we keep him on a pathway to success so that he doesn’t end up in prison nor end up in the grave, and that’s what we try to do,” Harrison said.

The president also believes Butler-Tarkington is a model not just for Indianapolis, but for the nation in helping reduce crime.