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Grants help downtown businesses target crime

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Downtown Indy Inc., in partnership with the Indianapolis city government, announced a $3.5 million public safety grant Thursday.

$75,000 of that grant is set aside for downtown businesses that want to participate in the b-link camera program. The program allows the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department to access a business’s real-time camera feed enabling dispatchers to send officers to a scene faster.

Huse Culinary, which owns St. Elmo Steakhouse, Harry & Izzy’s and 1933 Lounge, signed onto the b-link program after criminal incidents came too close for comfort.

“Some of them involve vandalism to store fronts and businesses around the area. We were victims of some of that prior to the installation system, plus it was another motivator to help protect ourselves, as well as our neighbors,” said Vice President of Operations Jason Benish.

A total of 33 other businesses citywide have their surveillance cameras in the b-link program.

“Downtown Indianapolis is one of the safest neighborhoods in the entire county. We’ve made a focused effort to leverage use of technology,” said Deputy Chief of Operations for IMPD Joshua Barker.

The b-link technology is credited with helping lead police to suspects in the shootings of three Dutch commandos in August and five people along a downtown canal in May.

The remaining $3 million grant money will fund IMPD bike patrols downtown, which police say will save them from moving officers from other parts of the city when there are big events.

Mayor Joe Hogsett said the city is doing everything it can to prevent crime, but as long as guns are readily available, it’s an uphill battle

“That is why I have always advocated that the Indiana General Assembly allow local units of government to implement perhaps some unique gun safety regulations,” Hogsett said.

Some of the money from the grant will also go toward street cleaning crews and homeless out reach programs.