Sunday, December 27, 2009

Assessing Indy's Crime Rate

As we close out another year, it seems to be a tradition around this town to assess whether the crime rate in Indianapolis is getting better or worse. The Ballard administration has been telling us all year that crime rates are falling, but if you read the newspaper or watch local TV reports, you would never know that. I've never seen so many bank robberies, hold-ups and home invasions as what has been reported in the media over the past year. Not even downtown is immune from the crime.

For several months, the Ballard administration has been boasting that the number of murders in the city this year will be under 100, a first in several years. The City is telling the public the number of murder victims this year is 97 after the latest Christmas day shooting. "No matter what number it would be, it would be significantly less than what it was last year," Deputy Mayor Olgen Williams told WRTV. "It's still lives lost, but you can be thankful it's not as many as it was."

The website,, has chronicled the City's homicide rate for several years now. The website puts the number of murdered so far this year at 101. That's a big improvement over the 150 homicides reported in 2006. The City recorded 125 in 2007 and 124 in 2008. The highest number of homicides occurred in the City in 1998 when there were 162 homicides. To be sure, there has been fewer shooting deaths this year. I would be curious to see how many persons were shot, stabbed or beaten this year but managed to survive life-threatening injuries because of the excellent care they received from a local hospital. I suspect when those crimes are factored in, the violent crime rate in this City has improved only slightly, if at all.

According to the Indianapolis Star, the number of home invasions in recent years has been on the rise. It looks like Hispanics and low-income households are favorite targets of robbers according to the report. Since Ballard took office, 1,650 residents have had their homes robbed according to the Star. The largest concentration of home invasions occur on the Near Northside, Near Eastside and Near Southside.

Ballard keeps telling us that public safety is job number one. Perhaps it is, but I think any claims that the crime rate has improved since he's taken office are not likely to be taken seriously by the public. You only have to talk around to friends and neighbors to get a sense that things are getting worse. Don Harris told WRTV that he is closing his barber shop after 40 years of business because of the crime problem. His northeastside shop has been held up twice in the past couple of years.


Paul K. Ogden said...

I would say, however, Gary, that Ballard's claim that he has held down the crime rate is a better argument than if he tries to claim he's a fiscal conservative and has lived up to his promise not to raise taxes. Yep, between the two, the crime argument has a better chance. Neither argument though is likely to be believed by the public.

artfuggins said...

There is a catch to Ballard murder stats. For the first time this year, there is a murder total for what is the old IPD district and one for the sheriff's district. To get the true number of murders in Indianapolis/Marion County, a person needs to add the "IPD" number to the "sheriff" number to get the total for Indianapolis/Marion County. This is blatant manipulation of stats particularly since we now have IMPD.

Southsider said...

I think Art is correct...According to the Indy Star......."Dec 26, 2009 | By Amy Bartner and Heather Gillers ... A Christmas Day shooting death brought the total homicides in Marion County this year to 101 -- a benchmark public safety officials hoped the county wouldn't reach".