Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee

Members of the city-county council’s Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee at a Feb. 26 meeting at the Fay Biccard Glick Neighborhood Center. (Photo/Tyler Fenwick)

Indianapolis is a step closer to knowing for sure which nonviolent offenders use a disproportionate amount of public safety and health resources.

The city-county council’s Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee approved a six-month project to define and identify what are referred to as high utilizers of multiple systems, or HUMS.

City leaders hope the project will lead to a repeatable method to help them develop a strategy to reduce that number of people and get them the mental health and addiction treatment they may need.

The project, which would start in early April, was unanimously approved by the 12-person committee at the Feb. 26 meeting and will cost $1.3 million.

Democratic councilor John Barth said he has experience working on similar initiatives in the health care field and pointed out that complexities seem to always pop up during the project that can prolong the time it takes to complete.

Tim Moriarty, who’s served as special counsel to Mayor Joe Hogsett since 2016, said the six-moth timeline is meant to get a repeatable tool, not learn everything.

“Every ounce of data we need, we’re not gonna get it in six months. We know that,” he said. “We’re gonna take all the data we can get, process it and come to an initial understanding. Some information is better than no information. I think it’s an ongoing effort.”

The Office of Audit and Performance will manage the project, and a steering committee will provide oversight and review the findings. The steering committee will be made up of members from the mayor’s office, Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, Eskenazi Health and more.

The Marion County Criminal Justice Planning Council — a 10-member team that includes Hogsett — will receive regular updates on the project.

Hope Tribble, director of the Office of Audit and Performance, said the city will be at an advantage by working with Indianapolis-based Community Solutions as a secondary consultant because when the lead consultant, KPMG, leaves at the end of the six months, the city could still have help facilitating the program.

Committee chairman Leroy Robinson, a Democrat, said there is only anecdotal evidence for the most part about who the relatively small number of people are who use a disproportionate amount of public services.

The idea for a HUMS project was part of a set of recommendations made by the Criminal Justice Reform Task Force in 2016.

Moriarty told the council one of the biggest themes the task force learned through that process — which included 10 community meetings — was nonviolent offenders are cycling through the criminal justice and health systems.

Moriarty compared the project to the Marion County Community Justice Campus, the first part of which is scheduled to open in six months.

“It is no less important in what it’s trying to do,” he said. “In fact, it’s a centerpiece of our efforts.”

The council also approved a proposal that would shift the focus of the Community Crime Prevention Grant Program to be used for violence intervention, interruption and street outreach.

Shonna Majors, the city’s director of community violence reduction, spoke in favor of the change, saying it would allow the roughly $3 million in grants to go to organizations that more broadly support violence reduction.

The proposals will go back to the full council for a vote.

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

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