INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Anyone passing through the Castleton area in the next few weeks can expect to see more red and blue flashing lights.
IMPD is increasing its presence in the popular shopping district with an operation named “Holiday Helper.” It starts November 19 and runs through Christmas Eve. IMPD’s North District will be getting some help from other districts around the city.
Since thousands of people will saturate the north side of town, the North District will pull officers from other districts during peak hours. The officers will patrol the shopping centers and restaurants along 82nd, 86th, and 96th streets.
Some will be in squad cars, others will be on bike or foot. A few will be working undercover to try and catch criminals in the act. And don’t be surprised to see them in your rearview mirror. The North District Commander Chris Bailey said his officers will increase how often they do traffic stops.
He said doing so will help them be more visible, deter criminals from operating in the area, and hopefully catch some who might have just finished breaking into cars or shop lifting.
“The purpose is not to write tickets. I’ve been clear about this from the very beginning when I took over north district that we are not about stats. We are not about writing tickets or quotas,” said Commander Bailey. “We’re about changing behavior, stopping behavior, having some positive interactions with people.”
Operation “Holiday Helper” also includes leaving yellow flyers on parked vehicles. Officers will mark on the flyer whether or not the driver left electronics or other belongings out in plain view, or if they found the car was unlocked.
Commander Bailey has also invigorated IMPD’s partnership with Simon Properties, specifically inside Castleton Square Mall.
Down a back hallway and through a highly secure door is IMPD North District’s new substation. “This room is equipped with several things that our officers need to work in the field,” said Commander Bailey.
In the room, officers can do everything from write up police reports to take a short break. They’ll also pack the place for roll call on Friday and Saturday nights.
“There’s a lot of police cars in the parking lot and then from here they deploy to all parts of the district,” Commander Bailey said.
But the point is that they’re at the mall to begin with at different times of the day.
“They walk through the mall. They drive through the parking lot. All those provide a sense of safety for those using this facility,” he added.
The sense of safety took a hit last January when video of a huge fight showed several teens throwing punches inside the mall. Adding in the fact that criminals might try to take advantage of shoppers this season, people feel having a substation can only help.
“I think that’s probably going to be a deterrent for any potential muggers or criminals who are wanting to break into cars, definitely if they know that police officers are checking in there every day at the beginning or end of their shifts,” said shopper Julie Rider.
Officers will also be parking in six news spots designated for police only, just another way for IMPD to let people know they’re always watching.
“We want to thank Simon again for their partnership and allowing us to be in there and because it’s only going to enhance the shopping experience so that our people are safe,” said Commander Bailey.