Detective turns former school into “city” for at-risk kids

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A recent crime wave of shootings and homicides this week have prompted people from the mayor to U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett to form committees to search for answers. However, one man is already working on it.

Harry Dunn is a third generation homicide detective with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. He’s already got the idea, the building and the passion.

Dunn is transforming a former Indianapolis Public Systems school into a place to help keep kids out of trouble.

30th and Forest Manor is in the heart of the zip code 46218, which is one of the city’s highest poverty and crime areas. When the violence began to rise three years ago, the veteran detective created a foundation. Him By Her stands for “Helping Improve Mankind by Healing Every Race.”

“I believe this is the way for our community to fight back,” Dunn said.

Dunn is recreating the Enterprise City used by Junior Achievement in the former Forest Manor school. It will be a miniature city where at-risk youth will learn trade and empowerment.

For the first time, the program will be connected to an after-school program. Dunn hopes to reach 20,000 kids.

“I think the only thing that you can do is offer a person an opportunity and limit their excuses,” Dunn said.

Dunn grew up in this neighborhood. He knows the streets well. He knows these kids, because he was one of them. He recalls the moment he knew he had to step in and do something.

“I have two teenage boys. I learned the statistic of 50 percent of young African-American males may not make it. That means one of two of my sons. I had to step in,” Dunn said.

Dunn welcomes other anti-violence groups to join him and work together as a team in some of the empty space.

“When you have the job I have every day, it’s what actually motivates you,” Dunn said, talking about standing at homicide scenes. “It motivates you to do what I am doing today. Get out there and find new ways to fight crime.”

Juvenile courts have already agreed to send some kids there as a condition of their probation.

Dunn saidhome support is important too and he wants some of the parents to be trained in plumbing, lawn care, cosmetology, roofing and more.

“Teaching them the same skills, so generationally, we can have an impact and that is one of our goals,” Dunn said.

The program is expected to be operational by the end of the year. They are looking for volunteers, along with public and private donations.

Dunn said it’s vital to follow up with the kids once they leave the program. So, he has asked Chief Hite and Sheriff Layton about officers doing one-on-one in-person follow ups with the kids.

To learn more about Dunn’s foundation, click here or visit the Facebook page.

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