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Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

Downtown safety under control for Indy guests

By meerna Jun12,2024

INDIANAPOLIS – A woman was shot overnight nine blocks north of Monument Circle on Meridian Street, 12 blocks from where an IMPD officer shot a man shooting nine days ago in the bar district.

Over the past month, downtown officers responded four times to people shot from the canal into the Julia M. Carson Transit Center.

However, IMPD reports that overall downtown crime is down 5.5% compared to the same period last year, while violent crime in the heart of the Circle City is down 15.3%.

Statistically, that’s good news for the thousands of visitors to Mile Square this month who are either attending out-of-state conventions or coming to watch America’s top swimmers qualify for the Olympics at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“We have visited many convention cities over the last 20 years and this is by far the safest we have felt in any of our convention cities,” said Michael Wright of Jackson, Mississippi, who had just finished eating lunch at Spark On The Circle with friends. “We were impressed with everyone we talked to. They were very nice, very open to their time. The place we visited, the cafe, the sandwich shop, we were very impressed with the hospitality of the staff.”

Rozelle Crawford often drinks coffee on Monument Circle, but she keeps to herself.

“To stay safe, I distance myself from trouble. I feel very protective,” he said. “But when people do something, you have to protect yourself as best you can.”

While events like the late-night shooting of teenagers on the streets of Maryland and Illinois in late March make headlines, the overwhelming experience of downtown visitors is the joy of attending large concerts and parades last month, cheering on Catlin’s debut in Fever. Clark or the Pacers in the playoffs or spending a three-day weekend waiting for the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

But for those who don’t have money, a home, a job, a family or solid plans for fun and entertainment, downtown Indianapolis can be a more dangerous and insecure place.

“Is downtown Indianapolis a safe place?” I asked David Rader, who said he had been wandering around Mile Square for seven years, looking for a meal or a bed wherever he could.

“It may be so,” he said. “You just have to make it the way it is. In a sense, I identify with my surroundings before I get there.

We stood on East Washington Street in front of the City-County Building, across from downtown’s main IndyGo transit hub, where off-duty police officers patrol to keep the peace.

“If you go places a lot or have to take public transportation a lot,” Rader said, “it’s easier to figure out where so-and-so might be or where something won’t be as good and that’s driven by addiction.”

A man who told me his name was Jay overheard our conversation and said he wanted to be heard too.

“What’s going on downtown?” I asked.

“I’m out of prison, a registered sex offender, and I suffer from mental health issues. Substance abuse problems,” he said. “It makes everything harder. There is simply no safe place to go.

According to a map found online in the Marion County Sheriff’s Office sex offender registry, there are 187 registered sex offenders scattered among shelters, motels and apartment buildings in the southeast corner of downtown.

“Since I’m a registered sex offender, I have nowhere to go,” Jay said, assuring me that his crime was not against a child. “I have to be outside. It’s getting dark. There’s nowhere to go. Here and there, the police are busy with active shootings. It’s not safe there and no one cares.

Police reports often show unsheltered people attacking each other, bar patrons shooting at each other at night, and teenagers involved in social media attacking their enemies on downtown streets on Saturday nights.

Less common, but not uncommon, are crimes against other downtown residents, visitors or employees.

“Sometimes people had incidents, but they happened all over the place, all over the city,” Crawford said. “There are incidents everywhere.”

“I don’t think people should be afraid to come to downtown Indianapolis because I’ve been here my whole life and nothing’s happened to me,” said Jay, who returned to the streets last Thursday after a six-month stint in prison. “What I would say to those people who come to visit is don’t put everyone in the same basket when just because a person looks like or whatever doesn’t mean you should feel unsafe. But always keep a watchful eye.”

By meerna

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