Neighbors voice concerns to Damar administrators over questions of care

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Neighbors didn’t mince their words.

“Tell us what is being done to correction this situation. We see no action,” said Lisa, who declined to give her last name for fear of retaliation.

“I am concerned for his safety,” said another neighbor.

A group of four women gathered Thursday night at Damar Services for the third and final meeting between Decatur Township residents and Damar administrators to discuss concerns over the quality of care being provided to mentally challenged adults in their neighborhood.

Damar officials called for the meetings after an I-Team 8 investigation last week raised questions about the quality of care and supervision being provided to the mentally challenged adults who live in residential neighborhoods not far from Damar’s main campus in southwest Indianapolis.

Neighbors have complained for years that these mentally challenged adults have been walking away from their homes and caretakers and entering other homes, playing in traffic and – in some cases – harassing neighbors. Dozens of police reports for missing persons’ report, assaults and mental health investigations have led top brass within IMPD’s southwest district to label it an “ongoing issue” and a drain on police resources.

Thursday’s meeting at Damar’s main campus capped off three meetings that were scheduled throughout the week. Other residents interviewed by I-Team 8 said that they were opposed to attending the meetings because they saw them as useless.

Lindsey Rudman equated them to “lip service.”

“It’s not going to do anything,” she said.

Rudman, who lives in another Decatur township neighborhood separate from the women who attended Thursday’s meeting, said she has called police and Adult Protective Services several times over the years for a mentally-challenged man who she says often tries to break into her home in search of a soda.

“He tried to come into my home yesterday, but the doors were locked,” Rudman said.

Rudman shared a video with I-Team 8 that shows the man sitting on the sidewalk outside of her home. The video later shows the Rudman describe an injury to her wrist as she says her husband worked to help the young man back to his home and his caretakers.

When I-Team 8 questioned Dr. Jim Dalton about these concerns, Dalton said: “Sometimes when you have the charge of managing people with great disabilities – and sometimes you are caring for more than one – things don’t always go perfect,” he said.

Dalton told the residents that both Indiana and federal law preclude caretakers or Damar supervisors from physically restraining these mentally-challenged adults and that they are free to come and go from their homes as they please. But I-Team 8 noticed that the door to one of the homes where a Damar resident lives was missing its door knob. After our first investigation aired last week, we noticed the door knob had been replaced.

Dalton said that administrators and the individuals’ “teams” are working to find new placement for these individuals but that finding those placements can be difficult and time-consuming given their very specific needs.

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