Police: Help from neighbors needed to turn things around

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – When it comes to battling crime in one of Indy’s most troubled areas, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officer Cory Heiny is on the frontlines.

Part of his zone includes 42nd Street and Post Road, one of six troubled neighborhoods the Department of Public Safety deemed “focus areas” late last year.

When it comes to turning things around, Heiny said one of his biggest challenges is getting people to get involved.

“Getting cooperation from people is hard,” he said.

Others say the challenge can be getting neighbors to get involved in general. It’s an issue Department of Public Safety Director Troy Riggs spoke about with I-Team 8.

“If you live in a healthy neighborhood, if you have a couple of break-ins in your neighborhood, Chief Hite’s phone is ringing off the hook. They want to meet him, they want to talk about what we’re going to do to deal with that,” said Riggs. “In some of these areas, we’ve had a couple of homicides over a weekend and no one ever calls. We have to have a sense of pride and community and to do that people have to feel safe and feel like we care about them as a community. We’ve said we need to do more.”

Heiny says part of the solution comes down to building relationships between police and the people they serve and protect.

“It’s a lot of trust-building,” said Heiny. “I get to know them, I talk to them. We are here to help and you. Work with me with the problem. I can work on the solution.”

Heiny said he spends a good part of his shift driving through apartment complexes, windows rolled down.

According to the Department of Public Safety, the solution also involves community partnerships. Tuesday, DPS announced at least 30 organizations have committed to investing in the focus areas to help turn things around. They include one group that will partner with local churches to provide summer youth activities. Another will coach and mentor residents. Another has committed to purchasing and rehabilitating vacant homes.

Tuesday, public safety leaders announced the second phase of their plan to turn around the city’s six focus areas.