More killings mean more cops, Indy officials say

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Chief of Police Rick Hite announces a plan on to put more uniformed police offers on the streets of Indiana's capital following a spate of deadly shootings. Michael Conroy / AP

A Midwestern city endures a deadly flurry of shootings and responds by putting more cops on the streets.

No, not Chicago, but rather Indianapolis, where the scale of the problem is smaller than the Windy City's but similarly alarming for officials and residents.

Following a violent holiday weekend that saw five homicides in six days, officials in Indianapolis announced plans Monday to reassign many police officers to street patrols.

The violent holiday weekend came after 16 killings in the city in June, the deadliest month this year. Seventy-nine people have been killed in Marion County in little more than six months.

The surge in homicides marks a 44 percent increase over last year, though it does not bring Indianapolis to the ranks of other Midwestern cities, such as Chicago and Detroit where there have been 184 and 153 homicides, respectively, in 2013.

The plan to increase police presence has been in the works since February. It represents efforts by Mayor Gregory Ballard and Chief of Police Richard Hite to use Indianapolis’ 1,585-officer force in the most efficient way possible, according to Marc Lotter, a spokesman for the mayor’s office.

“The victims are not random,” said Lt. Chris Bailey with the Indianapolis Police Department, "most of them have a criminal history – they were involved with gangs and drugs.”

Charles Harrison, president of an anti-crime outreach group, told the Indianapolis Star he feared the violence was feeding off itself.

“That’s our concern, how these young men are handling their conflicts,” Harrison told the newspaper. “It’s hard to get through to them.”

Despite the increase in killings, both the violent crime rate and property crime rate have dropped over the past few years. The increase in murder as opposed to other violent crimes is the result of "more gang involvement and more drugs,” said Bailey, adding “no one’s dying for any good reason.”

Officials anticipate that the plan will be implemented in the coming weeks when 116 officers will be deployed to beats on the Indianapolis streets. Two new recruitment classes would be added in the next three years, as well. 

“Many of the officers will target known hot spots and areas where there has been an increase in criminal activity,” Lotter told NBC News.

Just hours after the plan was announced, a 16-year-old boy was shot and killed in a playground on the city's east side.