For the first time in history, Indianapolis appears to have surpassed Chicago as the most violent city in the Midwest.
As of last weekend, 160 people have been murdered in Indianapolis this year, compared to 445 murders in Chicago through July 31.
The comparison between the two cities was made last week by the head of the police union that represents central Indiana, Rick Snyder, president of the Fraternal Order of Police.
“Chicago is about 3.09 times larger than Indianapolis, by population. So, if you make that adjustment, per capita, we’re outpacing Chicago in number of homicides per capita by nearly 4%,” Snyder told Indianapolis television station WISH-TV.
Criminal homicides are up 34% over 2020, when comparing the first six months of this year to the first six months of last year. And the general trendline has been up for Indianapolis since 2012.
In a news conference, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett called Indianapolis an “extraordinarily safe city” and labeled the problem one of “gun violence.”
He also pointed out the murder rate went down in 2019, just before the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the pandemic had changed everything.
“Prior to 2020 a vast litany of reforms of reforms and new investments had achieved measurable progress against gun violence, leading to the first decline in year-over-year homicides in nearly a decade,” he said. “Then, last year, the pandemic forced a pause on some of our most effective face-to-face intervention work.”
Hogsett said the pandemic, which hit Indianapolis hard, caused economic insecurity and stress, and a reduction in services also led to the increase in murders.
“We want nothing less than to reduce this trend in violence,” he said.
He also talked of the “community justice campus” that is being built in the city, saying it will be move-in ready by the end of the year.
Hogsett referred to it as a “dedicated facility for holistic criminal justice” that emphasizes treatment over incarceration for non-violent offenders.
On Sunday, five people were shot outside a funeral home on the city’s west side, one of them a 4-year-old girl who was in critical condition but survived.
“We’ve been saying we’re in a crisis since 2019. I think we’ve now gone over a cliff. We’ve fallen into a state of chaos in the city,” said Snyder following the mayor’s news conference.
On his Twitter page, he called for corporations who are helping bail out violent offenders to come forward when those people commit another murder and questioned the use of GPS monitors.
This week, it was reported that two murder suspects in Indianapolis were wearing GPS monitors at the time they allegedly committed the murder.
“What’s the purpose of GPS monitoring if there are no restrictions?” Snyder asked. “Who is monitoring the GPS trackers and who determines a violation?”
The assistant police chief of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Chris Bailey, called the 34% increase in criminal homicides “an unacceptable number” and said the violent crime wave had impacted the whole city.
Non-fatal shootings, he said, were up 65% over 2020 as of April, but have decreased since then and are now up 25% over last year.
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