Gun violence last weekend in downtown Indianapolis is prompting police to increase security, adding at least 50 more officers to patrol the area this weekend, including in and around Circle Centre Mall, WTHR-TV reported on Wednesday.
Circle Centre Mall is a popular shopping destination for visitors to downtown Indy, but recent violence has city leaders promising a new crackdown to end it.
Police had to break up a Saturday night fight between several teenage girls at the mall. They also arrested a 16-year-old boy for shooting off a gun near Maryland and Capitol outside the mall.
Indianapolis officials say they’ve had enough.
"Obviously we have to provide more resources and I think that's what we are going to do," said Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard told local media. "I think you might see a little change in game plan and more resources going down there."
Ballard didn’t provide specific details about the plan, but Police Chief Rick Hite talked about beefing up security.
"We're going to have additional officers and supervisors inside the mall. We're going to have people at the front door of the mall and exits of the mall," Hite said. "You're going to see additional officers on the corners in the downtown area."
Unfortunately, several reports of violence over the years has many in the city concerned about downtown safety.
"I think we all need to be concerned about what's going on in the community, especially downtown”, Alexis Allen, who works at the mall, told WTHR. Allen added that a lot of visitors vacation or do business there, which can “definitely give the city a bad (name)”.
Others told the NBC TV affiliate they don’t think there’s any cause for panic. "I don't feel any less safe than I did 30-40 years ago, or more safe," said Bill Rostiser, a watchmaker who told WTHR that he’s worked downtown at Windsor Jewelry since 1973.
"Overall, I'd say it's pretty much the same," he said. "Things happen. You know, we could be living in Chicago, where there have been 40 murders so far this year, so overall, I'd say we're a reasonably safe city," added Rostiser.
In a biennial perception survey conducted last year by Indianapolis Downtown Inc., 71 percent of those polled agreed that downtown was safe. That percentage has held fairly steady since 2000, with 2008 hitting a 62 percent low point, reported WTHR.
A benchmark study of the top 50 metropolitan areas indicates a 45 percent average for safety perception, according to Indianapolis Downtown Inc.