INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Mayor Joe Hogsett took a trip to summer camp Thursday in an effort to reduce youth violence.
He lectured a group of kids at the Young Men Inc. Youth Empowerment Camp. The camp aims to keep kids off the streets and away from crime.
Hogsett answered a long list of questions from dozens of kids, and then he asked a question for them.
“How many of you in this room are tired of reading about gun violence?”
Nearly every hand in the room went up.
“I have no doubt that some of you have probably experienced friends or loved ones or people you know who have been victimized by gun violence,” Hogsett said.
Just last week, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department arrested an 18-year-old suspected of shooting two people and a 19-year-old suspected of shooting and killing a woman.
Police said in May that a 14 and 15-year-old robbed an IndyCar driver at gunpoint at a west side Taco Bell.
“You need to help me keep you, your brothers and sisters, your family, as safe as possible,” Hogsett said.
On average, people involved in gun violence in Indianapolis are getting younger, according to Hogsett.
“We have younger people who are obtaining weapons without any legal authority to do so and using it resolve disputes,” he said.
The Rev. Malachi Walker said his youth camp teaches kids respect. When the kids aren’t chatting with city leaders, they’re visiting local parks and cleaning up the neighborhood.
Sixteen-year-old Garrod Hubbard has been going to the camp for years.
“It taught me to be a man, to be in a leadership, to be successful—legally successful,” Hubbard said.
IMPD said they recorded 72 murders by June 25 this year. They’d recorded 73 on that same date last year and 2016 ended as the deadliest year in Indianapolis history with 149 murders.
In nonfatal shootings, IMPD recorded 187 by June 25 this year and 238 on that same date last year.
Hogsett said IMPD has added dozens of officers and increased their focus on beat-oriented policing.