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Leaders: Hogsett’s $1.3B budget plan could strengthen Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The community reacted Tuesday to Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett’s $1.3 billion budget proposal for 2022.

Hogsett on Monday night unveiled the proposal, which includes $150 million over three years directed solely at public safety. The Democrat told the City-County Council, which approves the city budget, that he hopes more money will mean less crime.

“I’m asking this council to dramatically increase our anti-violence community grants, distributing $45 million over the next three years to groups who are devoted to fighting crime on our streets,” the mayor said Monday night.

James Wilson, the chief executive officer of Circle Up Indy, is on a mission to build stronger communities and he believes the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is taking steps forward, trying, and working on community connections. However, he wants to see a stronger emphasis on cultural connections.

“For instance, understanding really how the Black community works. We’re not always aggressive but when you go through history and years of trauma and damage with law enforcement and the community, you have to understand their interaction the moment you approach it. So, when you approach it with a level of aggression, they’re going to interact sometimes with level aggression, not because simply they don’t respect your authority. It’s just simply because of the things that they’ve been through.”

Wilson added, “If you’re going to put that much money toward violence reduction, make sure you’re directly putting it toward the people to be strongly affected, not just departments. But, that money has to go directly out into the hands of the people.”

The Circle Up Indy leader also said he wants the city to put more dollars into Black businesses to create more growth and employment opportunities for Indianapolis.

Another Indianapolis resident, Brandon Randall works with “at-promise” youth. He’s director of engagement at Voices Corp., which works to positively impact and enhance the lives of Indy’s youth. Randall thinks the city could do a better job of connecting with young people.

“There are a lot of youth mentoring organizations, a lot of youth programs, grassroots nonprofits that do a lot of great work. But, we need that same energy to be captured with the police and other systems and institutions. That way we can better serve our young people.”

The mayor’s budget also seeks millions of dollars over three years to go to mental health programs, including in-school mental health services, violence prevention programs, and youth programming. About that proposal, Randall said, “I’m excited to hear that there’s a significant increase in potential funding allocation for youth programming … but not just for programming, for intentional programming. So, looking at mental health, trauma, and connecting the resources, I think that is so important.”

Both Wilson and Randall said there are things the people of Indianapolis can do to help. Randall suggested volunteering at a mentoring organization, reading to kids at an elementary school, or donating school supplies. Wilson suggested involvement with community organizations, neighborhood associations, nonprofits, volunteer efforts or even politics if so inclined.

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