Facing officer shortages, a surge in homicides, and unrelenting youth violence, Indianapolis police are turning toward community organizations more than ever to reduce crime by focusing on its root causes, the Indianapolis Star reports. From keeping tabs on the mentally ill to teaching cops how to talk to teens to finding meals for poor families, the police department is recruiting outside help to reduce the burden on its depleted ranks.
The strategy is intended to free up officers for their core mission — responding to emergencies and arresting people — and delegating other matters to the professionals trained to handle them. Officers are being trained to arrive on calls equipped with contacts for community, church, philanthropic and government agencies to which they can refer residents in crisis or professionals they can call on the spot. Public Safety Director Troy Riggs calls it a “holistic” approach that goes beyond locking people up and aims to ease the economic and social stress that lands people in jail. Riggs and Police Chief Rick Hite are re-establishing what could become the control tower for all the partnerships: an Indianapolis Public Safety Foundation.