Indianapolis to host national anti-violence summit

Indianapolis' near-record homicide rate has prompted the U.S. attorney to schedule a summit where public safety leaders from Detroit, Chicago, Gary and other urban areas can share the strategies they've used for reducing killings.

The summit Sept. 3-5 will bring together dozens of Justice Department officials from around the country and public safety leaders from other cities including Philadelphia; St. Louis; Louisville, Ky.; and Nashville, Tenn., U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett said Tuesday.

Indianapolis has had at least 62 homicides through the first five months of the year and could rival the record 162 recorded in 1998 at a time when slayings are declining in in large cities such as Chicago and New York. Indianapolis is ranked 22nd on the FBI's list of deadliest cities.

"Across the country, many cities have seen a reduction in murders while Indianapolis has struggled with the worst outbreak of violence in a generation. We must do all we can to bring those successful strategies to the streets of our city," Hogsett said.

Among those attending will be federal prosecutors on the Justice Department's Violent and Organized Crime Committee, who have experience in combatting gun crime, drug trafficking and gang activity, a news release said.

Most of the Indianapolis slayings have involved criminals killing other criminals.

Hogsett isn't the only public official trying to curb the Indianapolis violence. Mayor Greg Ballard has met with gang leaders, and city officials have proposed about $29 million a year in tax increases to add nearly 300 officers to the police force by 2018. Police have beefed up street patrols, hosted neighborhood meetings and expanded the presence of McGruff the Crime Dog in classrooms to reach kids before they drift into deep trouble.

Members of the Ten Point Coalition, a faith-based group of ministers and community leaders, have targeted two of the most troubled ZIP codes in Indianapolis with regular visits in hopes of steering young people down a better path.

Hogsett spokesman Tim Horty told The Indianapolis Star that local, county and state law enforcement agencies have been invited to attend the September summit.

"We hope to share some of our crime-fighting initiatives that have been successful around the state in hopes that some might have some applicability here in Indianapolis," Horty said.

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