December 20, 2006 Indianapolis Star Editorial

Wake Up, Folks; Crime Isn't Sleeping

Our position: All the players in public safety must return their focus to reducing crime.

City leaders should be roused to action by the fact that Indianapolis is outpacing the nation with an 8 percent year-over-year increase in violent crimes for the first six months of 2006. Crime, however, isn't a preoccupation these days.

They should be outraged that Indianapolis is the only metro area out of nine -- including such reputedly crime-ridden cities as New York and Detroit -- to see increases in crimes rates in every category between 2000 and 2005, according to a Star analysis last summer.

Mayor Bart Peterson, as president of the National League of Cities, says he will focus on the effects of violence in the media on youth crime. Given the lack of clear evidence of a connection between media violence and criminal activity, the mayor should concentrate on real crime on the streets of Indianapolis and other cities.

Aaron Sullivan, new president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 86, and the Indianapolis police officers he represents, also should be outraged by these crime statistics. But the FOP continues its long-running sparring match with Peterson, this time over the mayor's decision to pull back from a 5-percent pay raise that the union rejected earlier this year. While the rank-and-file deserve better pay, they should have accepted the offer when it was first presented.

Meanwhile, City-County Council members have spent the past two months debating which elected officials are entitled to pay raises, including a proposal on Monday to boost their own pay by 75 percent after next year's elections. Whatever the justification for the raise, it's overly generous given the city's fiscal constraints and the lack of similar increases for the officers who patrol the streets.

City officials seem no longer driven by a sense of urgency that spurred them in August to take steps toward reforming the public safety system after a spate of murders that bloodied city streets.

Homicide victims such as the seven members of the Valdez-Covarrubias and Albarran families, who were brutally murdered in their Hamilton Avenue home, deserve better. So do those who have been assaulted andwhose homes have been burglarized. For them and for the rest of the city, stemming crime is the most important thing city leaders can do on their behalf.