The crime numbers are not completely in from 2012, but according to preliminary incident reports, violent crime is up from 2011, and property crimes are slightly down from the year before.
According to the preliminary numbers available to Dec. 15, 2012, residential burglaries are up about one-half of a percent from the year before, but larceny is up 2.5 percent throughout the city. In East District, residential burglaries dropped over two percent, but robberies were up almost seven percent and larcenies were up over five percent. (To clarify in broad terms, a burglary is taking things from a residence or business with or without the presence of a person, robbery is taking things from a person, such as being mugged or held up, and larceny is theft of items. Robbery is considered a violent offense.)
At the same time, residents have been using the power of the Internet and social media to air their concerns and share their stories. Neighborhood groups have had lively discussions about what should be done, and how they should band together. The Irvington neighborhood pages, in particular, have been alive with talk of how to curb crime in their historic neighborhood.
Mounting frustration with a perceived increase in residential and business burglaries, vehicle theft, and other serious crimes prompted Irvington resident Megan Bennett and other concerned citizens to look into what could be done to improve the situation on the winding streets of the historic neighborhood. Her research uncovered the King Park Public Safety Co-operative, and SafeIndy. King Park residents found themselves in a similar situation to Irvington’s a couple of years ago, and banded together to hire SafeIndy, an organization that pays off-duty IMPD officers to patrol the neighborhood in marked and unmarked vehicles. Residents pay a quarterly fee to participate in the co-op. Bennett says she’s heard from 75-80 people in Irvington who want to participate in the pilot program after making a suggestion that the neighbors look into creating their own.
“That response is just from the Irvington neighborhood Facebook page,” she said. “Right now we’re in the process of reaching out to businesses and apartment complexes that might be interested.” The group would like to begin officially signing people up in mid-January.
The SafeIndy patrols won’t take the place of traditional police efforts. Off-duty officers will patrol around co-op member’s homes or businesses, do scheduled walks through alleys and along sidewalks and around properties. They retain full police powers and can respond to any incident just like any on-duty police officer. The goal of the program is supplement, not replace, IMPD service by pro-actively addressing problems in the area.
Bennett noted that residents know that IMPD is short-staffed and overwhelmed with responsibilities. “When IMPD moved away from beat patrols last year, a lot of Irvington people felt we were just left hanging out there.”
SafeIndy patrols would be scheduled for times when crimes tend to happen in the area, based on reports of previous runs. Co-op members pool their resources to buy blocks of time, so the more co-op members, the more time per week the patrols can be purchased. Bennett said that pricing would be on a sliding scale per household income; the King Park neighbors pay anywhere from $83 per quarter to $42, and businesses from $450 a year upwards, depending on the number of employees. Co-op members receive reports every month on the actions taken by officers.
“They would be here if we need extra protection,” Bennett added. “I know there are some concerns raised by this: that IMPD won’t patrol as much, that our tax dollars should pay for this. But honestly, a lot of officers already have off-duty security jobs. Instead of patrolling the mall, they could be patrolling in their neighborhood in this program.”
The Irvington program has yet to be finalized; interested residents should call 317-426-SAFE or visit www.safeindy.com for details about the program, or to indicate interest in joining or creating a co-op.