Butler-Tarkington borough goes 1 year without murder amid violence reduction efforts

INDIANAPOLIS — A North Side Indianapolis neighborhood is making progress in its efforts to reduce violent crime.

The Butler-Tarkington neighborhood has gone 365 days without another murder, which community leaders and those involved in anti-violence efforts attribute to the community as a whole. It’s the fourth time since 2016 that the neighborhood has gone a full year without someone being killed in a criminal homicide.

“I am a believer in the bottom-up approach in which neighborhoods conduct their own crime prevention strategy in partnership with the city and law enforcement, and together they work to address not only immediate violence , but also against the root causes of the violence,” said Reverend Charles Harrison, chairman of the Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition board of directors and pastor of Barnes United Methodist Church.

Groups like Indy Ten Point work to patrol several areas of the city, including Butler-Tarkington, several days a week.

It was late summer and early fall of 2015 when the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood was rocked by several murders, which sparked a major spurt of change that has continued ever since.

Ted Feeney was then president of the Butler-Tarkington Neighborhood Association.

“In 2015, over a period of nine weeks, six of my neighbors were killed; four within the neighborhood limits and two within the city,” Feeney said. “In a very short time, many families, blocks, streets, an entire neighborhood were nervous and traumatized by what happened, but we took action and came together.”

Residents of the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood have partnered with community stakeholders, city leaders, Indy Ten Point, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, businesses and others to work proactively to reduce crime and violence .

“When we say we’ve gone another homicide-free year in four of the last six, considering what’s going on in the city, that’s really an incredible milestone,” Feeney said.

The city has been hit by record violence, particularly in 2021, when 271 people were killed in Indianapolis homicides.

“No one should have to live in fear in their neighborhood and their city. It can be done,” Feeney said, thanking the people and groups who have come together over the past seven years to take action.

WISP Deputy Chief Chris Bailey said Butler-Tarkington is a “great example” of what can happen when residents stand up and say they’ve had enough.

“No matter what program, what organization, what government entity is in place, if residents aren’t fed up, it won’t move forward,” Bailey said.

Bryan Bradford, current president of the Butler-Tarkington Neighborhood Association, said they have developed a strong relationship with the WISP Northern District Commander, which has been a driving factor in their efforts.

“It feels good to be able to call him when we have a problem, and he steps in immediately,” Bradford said. “I also want to thank the residents of Butler-Tarkington because we can’t do this without them. if you see something, say something. If you see him, call.

The last murder to take place in the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood happened on January 12, 2021 when 32-year-old Ashley Bell was fatally shot in what investigators ruled a domestic murder.

Just two months prior, in November 2020, Harold Lee III was shot outside his own mother’s house in the 3800 block of Cornelius Avenue.

“He was just very, very adamant about getting the kids to do something positive in their lives,” Harold’s brother Damon Lee said.

“It just doesn’t make sense when you have someone who has touched so many of these young people’s lives over the past 10, maybe 15 years coaching them and being there for them that they would die tragically. himself,” Damon said.

The Lees grew up in the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood and worked to help others in the community by mentoring and mentoring young people.

“I feel like you can change a kid and help them make big decisions and see that life is bigger than living on the streets or committing murder,” Damon said.

When asked what Harold, who has worked to help others and push for peace in his community, would think about progress in violence reduction efforts, he said: “I thinks he’d be proud no one else was killed, but that’s bittersweet.

The reason is that Harold’s case was never solved and no arrests were made.

“You should celebrate your wins because every little win matters to the whole town, but for us as a family we are still devastated with not one, but two unsolved homicides,” said Damon, who said that his brother-in-law, Clarence Wade Havvard, was also shot and killed on the same street in 2015.

“I appreciate 365 days because no one should have to go through what my family is going through,” Damon said.

He hopes that people will not only continue to be motivated to participate in crime reduction efforts, but also to speak out and help secure justice for those who suffer the losses they have suffered from violent crime.

Another victim still awaiting justice is 10-year-old Deshaun Swanson and his family. He was killed in a drive-by shooting in 2015, which remains unsolved more than six years later.

“Deshaun Swanson was killed in this neighborhood during this terrible time. His family still mourns him, the police department still mourns him, and I know the locals mourn him. His case is still unsolved, and someone out there knows who and why and when and it’s time for you to do the right thing,” Bailey said.

Bailey added: “This is how we stop this violence, this is how we stop the cycle, this is how we hold accountable those who victimize our communities, not just here, but across the city.”

You can call Crime Stoppers of Central Indiana anonymously at (317) 262-TIPS for any information.

In addition to efforts in the Butler-Tarkington district, the crime-fighting model has been adapted in other areas of the city, including Highland Vicinity, Crown Hill, Carriage House East Apartments and Across the Borders of Marion County, Fort Wayne, IN.

“I think it’s enough to change one at a time. If you change one at a time, you end up changing a community,” Damon said. “For these groups, I tell them to keep doing the work. You’re going to have good days and you’re going to have bad days, but just keep doing the work.

Indianapolis County Councilman John Barth shared his thoughts on the successes of crime reduction efforts on Twitter Thursday afternoon.

“I join @Charlesharriso5 in recognizing this important milestone and appreciate the activities of the 10 Point Coalition. I especially appreciate the strong partnership that @IMPD_news has developed with neighborhood groups throughout District 7 and the hard work of leaders I look forward to continuing my longstanding support of @butler-tark in tackling crime and underlying issues such as food and economic insecurity.

John Barth, Alderman-County, District 7

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