May 11, 2017
Last year, murder rates reached a new record high in Indianapolis. There were 145 murders, surpassing the previous year’s record of 144 at the end of December with the death of a 48-year-old man. To put this number into perspective, only 2 people have been murdered since 2001 in Martinsville. Indianapolis continues to grow more and more violent and dangerous. The rising population, poverty, substance abuse, and mental illness are thought to be the main causes of this increased violence.
Due to the high murder rate in 2015, at the beginning of 2016 Indianapolis was named the 29th most dangerous city in the U.S. However, things are beginning to look more optimistic. Last year was the first year under the new mayor, Joe Hogsett, who ran for office with the intent of reducing crime. His efforts worked in some ways; the crime rates in Indy neighborhoods known for violence lowered between seven and ten percent since new policing policies were implemented last summer.
Indiana murders reached a peak in 1980 at 485 deaths and have generally been in decline since then, whereas violent crimes across the state have continued to steadily increase since the 1960s. Your chances of becoming a victim of a violent crime in Indianapolis are one in 76, while your chances are one in 403 in Martinsville. Since 1990, there have been 34 shootings at K-12 schools in the Midwest. Of the three in Indiana, one was in Indianapolis (nonfatal; January 22, 2016), and one was in Martinsville (nonfatal; March 25, 2011).
In Martinsville, a non for profit organization know as the Martinsville Crime Watch has made themselves known by keeping an eye out for suspicious activity. With the increasing crime rate, this group aims to make our community more safe. The group meets on the second Monday of each month at the Disciple House in downtown Martinsville at 6:30 p.m. Most meetings include reviewing the monthly agenda and a lecture given by a guest speaker. Carmen Elliott from the local women’s shelter, Desert Rose, spoke at the April meeting regarding sexual assault. She gave statistics about sexual harassment and provided helpful tips to better these situations. The crime watchers recently helped the unsafe housing and building committee take down several unsafe buildings and houses in Martinsville and are starting to gain more awareness of their efforts. Coordinate, Betty Chamberlin and secretary Debbie Osborn host the meetings and are the faces of the group. The next meeting will be on May 8, 2017, and the chief deputy of the sheriff department will be speaking.
Overall, the group aims to “improve neighborhoods, build trust, safety, education, crime prevention, promote good citizens and law enforcement relationships, as well as pride in our community.” Keep in mind that the Martinsville Crime Watch is not the strong arm of the law, but instead they provide an extra set of eyes and ears. They remind everyone to call the police immediately if anything suspicious is going on.