A public safety summit led by some Indianapolis City-County Council members and the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police was postponed and faces an uncertain future as councilors try to figure out what it should look like.
Republican councilor Brian Mowery, who was part of the group that announced the “citizen-driven public safety initiative” on Feb. 10, said in an interview the original idea was to host a series of meetings at different locations around Indianapolis.
The first one was supposed to be Feb. 17 at the Crowne Plaza near the airport.
“This is not a Democrat or a Republican issue,” Mowery, who represents southern District 25, said at the Feb. 10 press conference.
But it appears to be heading that direction.
Mowery said he got the impression that council President Vop Osili and councilor Maggie Lewis, both Democrats, were interested in being involved with the group, but said he later heard from Osili that he and Lewis didn’t want to be associated with the group.
Osili was not available for comment, but Brandon Herget, policy director for the council, said Osili and Lewis told Mowery they were “happy to think through how to address issues together” but weren’t comfortable being involved with the group because they felt there weren’t enough details.
Multiple attempts to reach Lewis were not successful.
“To be quite frank with you, I’m not quite sure what’s changed, what’s going on,” Mowery said. “It’s disappointing, but I’m still hoping they’ll help where they can.”
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Even Mowery isn’t positive what the group will look like going forward. While he wanted a series of meetings, Mowery said he heard from Democrats who wanted it to be a one-time event.
Democratic councilor Dan Boots, who spoke at the press conference, said in a text message he was under the impression that the initiative was a “single event, from which attendees would take away preferred practices back to their respective organizations and neighborhoods to implement.”
He said anything including a series of meetings wouldn’t be different from a commission, which Democrats on the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee recently rejected when Mowery and other Republicans tried creating a commission that would have studied violence and its disparate impact on African Americans.
Boots said he and caucus leadership would be “happy to collaborate” on a one-time event under three conditions: developing a format for the event, having an understanding of the goals, and having a plan to engage organizations and speakers to represent those most impacted by violent crime.
At the press conference, Boots said he was “broadly supportive of any proposal to gather input from the community.”
Mowery said he would still “optimistically” like to make an announcement early next week about plans for the initiative going forward.
But Democratic councilor Leroy Robinson, who chairs the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee, was supportive of the initiative in an interview before the postponement and said he still stands by that support.
“Anytime that elected officials can rally around issues that are important to our city, that’s always a good thing,” he said. “There’s no qualms with leaders, elected officials, community members rallying around issues that are important to the community. Thumbs up from me.”
Robinson has since laid out public safety plans that could take effect over the next year, including policy changes, proposals before the council and better communication with the community.
The Feb. 17 meeting would have taken place following a violent weekend in Marion County, with four killed in Indianapolis and one in Beech Grove.
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department investigated 31 criminal homicides as of Feb. 17, including a quadruple murder Feb. 5. The department investigated 16 criminal homicides by the same time last year.
Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.