Putting The Clamps On Violence In Fort Wayne: Plan Brought Forth

By Jeff Neumeyer - 21Alive
By Eric Dutkiewicz - 21Alive

September 19, 2013 Updated Sep 19, 2013 at 9:42 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21 Alive) --- Getting on top of Fort Wayne's violence problem.

Following months of hearing concerns and gathering community feedback, recommendations for action were set to be presented Thursday at the Fort Wayne Urban League's headquarters.

A series of forums organized by the Urban League beginning in the spring served as a sounding board for complaints and possible solutions.

Violence has already produced 31 homicides in the city and county this year.

"From a grassroots community action network of people, we brought together this community action plan," Jonathan Ray, president of the Fort Wayne Urban League, says at the meeting Thursday night. "That calls for strategic planning among city officials, among social service agencies, among governmental agencies, the police and also--most importantly--the people."

Some of the recommendations have to do with reducing unemployment and poverty, which can trigger violent crime.

The plan would advocates for new supermarkets and other retail options on the southeast side, to build community pride and attack the notion that it's a transient area.

The head of the Urban League also believes there needs to be trust building between FWPD officers and the minority citizens they serve.

"Everybody who works to uphold the peace, they want to go home at night, but it's important to understand that you can't work your life, or live your life in your work field, on stereotypes. You have to make sure that you understand that most of the people in the community are law abiding," Ray says earlier Tuesday..

Police Chief Rusty York has argued that police investigators need more help from witnesses to bring criminals to justice.

But frustration surfaced during the community forums from minority citizens who say they have stepped up to share information with police, only to feel that their info is too often minimized or ignored.

One action recommendation expected from the Urban League event on Thursday has to do with creation of foot patrols in certain southeast neighborhoods, a move envisioned as a way to develop a stronger connection between police and residents in higher crime areas.

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