IMPD commander unveils new crime fighting goals for 2016

(WISH photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The commander for one of IMPD’s largest districts is working to improve communication with the people who live there.

That was one of several goals for this year unveiled at a task force meeting on Wednesday. The meeting was held at the public library near 41st Street and College Avenue.

Better Communication sounds like a broad term, but it seemed to be the theme behind each of north district’s goals. The area stretches from Castleton down to 30th Street, and in that large chunk of the city the commander hopes a simple conversation can start making a big difference.

Walking down the sidewalk from her home, it’s not the type of visit Johnnie Dawson expected to make to her neighbor Wesley Collins.

“Man you was a good dude,“ she said as she laid a teddy bear on his door step. “My friend,” she muttered under her breath.

Collins was killed on Tuesdayat his home near 33rd Street and Hovey Street, Indy’s second homicide of the year and the first for the north district.

“It’s unexpected you know, I have no words for it,” she said.

Back at the task force meeting, Commander Chris Bailey vowed to curb crime in his community. “We’re going to work together to solve these problems,” he said. “We’re all in this together.”

The room was filled with people who were just as concerned as Dawson. Some had questions about police body cameras. Others wanted to learn if IMPD’s use-of-force policies. But outside of their questions, Commander Bailey vowed to strengthen communication within his department and more importantly with the people his officers protect and serve.

Other goals included improving quality of life by tackling problems like excess garbage in front of homes and abandoned houses.

But staying engaged with the community to collectively solve crimes stood out the most.

In attendance was Suzie Stamm, the Crime Watch captain for the Ravenswood neighborhood. She explained how she was never afraid to call police if she saw something suspicious.

“I found that by doing that, we got a lot of results. We get more results,” she said.

That’s what Bailey is hoping for along Hovey Street. He said officers were back there today, going door to door trying to get tips to solve Tuesday night’s murder.

“Sometimes two or three times today they came back to us say ‘oh I forgot to tell you this, oh think about this’,” he said.  Bailey said return trips to crime scenes will happen more often this year.

“Specifically when it comes to homicides, I think our core focus was on enforcement, having high visibility in the area and then trying to solve the crime. What we’ve added to the same elements is just a little more community relations touch,” he said,

Dawson appreciates the new effort. She just wishes IMPD never had a reason to visit her block in the first place.

“It’s got to get better than this. It’s got to get better,” she said while wiping tears from her eyes.

When officers revisited the scene, they now hand out flyers that have contact information for Crime Stoppers, IMPD’s Homicide Branch and the community relations officers in the district.

The flyers also display next time North District will host another task force meeting.

Commander Bailey challenged the crowd to bring two new people to the next meeting on March 2. It will be held at the College Avenue Library at 4180 N. College Avenue starting at 6:30 p.m.

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