City-County councilors eye ideas to protect crime witnesses

Indianapolis police say 13-year-old Matthew McGee was shot in the head just before a Long John Silver's restaurant closed at 10 p.m. Sept. 9, 2017. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — On the scene of a crime, sometimes there are witnesses.

The testimony from an observer is critical in solving a criminal investigation.

In some cases, onlookers are willing to share information with investigators. Then there are cases when witnesses are reluctant to talk for various reasons including not wanting to get involved.

Then there are people who are willing to talk, but unwilling to live with the physical consequences — such as verbal or physical threats.

Currently Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department has a clearance rate of solving homicides at 38 percent. The number is fluid and is subject to go up as detectives solve more murder investigations in 2017.

Indy needs help.

Currently, the city has to rely on federal grants or money from the state to provide protection for witnesses.

Two City-County councilmen are reviewing possible solutions to create resources for victims willing testify about a crime.

“We need to look to see what other cities are doing, and I hope the agencies involved can come with a workable proposal,” said City-County Councilman Jeff Coats.

Recently, IMPD reported to several shootings where witnesses were on the scene but refused to share information with investigators.

In September, officers were dispatched to 6000 block of East 82nd Street, the parking lot of a Long John Silver’s fast-food restaurant, where they found 13-year-old Matthew McGee dead from a gunshot wound.

On the scene during the shooting were several teens. Those teenagers on the scene refused to commit on who pulled the trigger and killed McGee.

“We need witnesses to solve crime and get convictions,” said City-County Councilman Scott Kreider.

Coats and Kredier are reaching out to IMPD and the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office to learn the needs of protecting witnesses.