‘Faith patrol’ going to near-northside Indianapolis neighborhood

Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition walks through a neighborhood. (WISH Photo, File)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition plans to walk the streets of a near-northside neighborhood Thursday night.

They’ll be joined by Ten Point’s founder, the Rev. Eugene Rivers III, who flew in from Boston on Thursday morning.

A string of crimes involving teenagers dominated local headlines when Rivers arrived at Indianapolis International Airport. Four teenagers were arrested and one stolen gun was found Thursday morning after someone fired shots near an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department station.

“If you want to keep a kid out of crime, somebody better go snatch him and say, ‘Look here, son. We’re going to help you out. We’re going to get you off the street,’” Rivers said.

Rivers founded Ten Point in Boston in the early 1990s, and the faith-based group expanded to Indianapolis in 1998.

The group marches the streets, connects with young people and tries to steer them away from crime. Ten Point often hires ex-criminals to work within the coalition to help others turn their lives around. The group also refers local job opportunities to people they meet on the streets.

Ten Point’s Indianapolis branch said it helped reduce the murder rate in neighborhoods it patrols, including Butler-Tarkington and Crown Hill.

“As we say in the church, I’m Godly proud,” Rivers said. “Because one of our leaders has really represented our model.”

The group announced Thursday that the Rev. Charles Harrison, who heads the Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition, is now in charge of expanding Ten Point in Indiana. Harrison said he’s recently visited Gary, Evansville, South Bend, Fort Wayne, Richmond and Anderson.

Harrison said faith and city leaders in those cities are interested in launching groups modeled after Ten Point.

“We have seen it work extraordinary in poor neighborhoods on the west side,” Harrison said.

Ten Point also plans to increase their presence on the east side of Indianapolis, including the area of 42nd Street and Post Road. That’s the neighborhood where police arrested three teenagers this week on gun- and drug-related charges.

“What saddens me is that I think society has just become numb to it and accepts it now,” Harrison said.

Ten Point planned to start its Thursday night “faith patrol” about 7:30 p.m. at 29th Street and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street, which is just a few blocks from the spot where police said a teenager shot and killed someone in September. IMPD announced Thursday morning they’d arrested the teen.