Speedway Neighborhood Watch held a meeting on Thursday, February 26, 2015 at the American Legion. Despite the chilly temperatures, the meeting was very well attended. Prior to the meeting, Speedway residents (many from social media site Nextdoor) got together for dinner and socializing.
Speedway Police Department Sgt. Mirantha Wilson opened the meeting and introduced Chief Jim Campbell, who gave a presentation on crime statistics that were recently published on an online real estate brokerage site/blog.
During their presentation, Chief Campbell and Assistant Chief Chuck Upchurch displayed the UCR (Uniform Crime Reporting) statistics in various charts, explaining more about the particular circumstances of several cases, particularly homicides. They also reviewed statistics for other crimes against people, including rape and assault. Chief Campbell explained that due to the nature and circumstances surrounding such crimes (domestic violence, fights, etc.), the police are typically unable to prevent such crimes from occurring.
Various types of theft were discussed such as robbery (when a person takes something from another using some sort of force; i.e., a gun, knife, or other threat to another person), burglary (breaking and entering a structure), vehicle theft, and theft (including shoplifting and thefts from vehicles). It is in this area, where residents can assist the police department by reporting any suspicious activity.
Chief Campbell explained a couple of reasons for the increased theft statistics in our area. First is due to the responsive nature of the Speedway Police Department. He indicated that in some municipalities, the police do not respond to certain calls. In Speedway, the police department wants to know what is going on in town; therefore, all calls are responded to by a police officer, no matter how minor. In addition, the higher number of thefts (in comparison to other areas) can also be attributed to the fact that many Speedway businesses choose to address and deal with shoplifters, resulting in more arrests. In many other stores around the city, the management chooses to let shoplifters go and take a loss, rather than attempting to stop the crime.
Further, some of the thefts involve local pharmacies. Chief Campbell noted that nationwide, many pharmacies, CVS in particular, are increasingly targeted. In two recent cases involving CVS in Speedway, the suspects were quickly apprehended and arrested.
Chief Campbell showed the breakdown of the various crimes by type of property such as individual residence, businesses, and apartments. He also broke down the crimes by each apartment complex. He explained that the Speedway Police Dept. has a trespass arrangement with the apartment management, whereby Officers, on behalf of the management, can cite people on the property for trespass as applicable. Each subsequent trespass citation results in a greater level of offense, eventually leading to arrest. SPD has cited over 800 people for trespass, that would not have occurred without this arrangement.
The Chief summarized his presentation on crime statistics by stressing the importance of community policing. He explained that police were not meant to be solely responsible for a community’s safety. Rather, it takes a partnership between residents and the police department. He discussed the department’s two community policing initiatives, the Speedway Police Citizens Academy, a 12-week program where residents learn more about the police department in a variety of classes on topics from use of force, drugs, patrol procedures, and more. The SPD Citizens Academy has 106 graduates, who are part of an active alumni association and assist the department. The next class starts in September, and all Speedway residents or business owners can apply.
The other community policing initiative is the Neighborhood Watch program, where residents watch over their neighborhoods, serving as the extra “eyes and ears” of the department and immediately reporting any suspicious activities or crimes that have taken place. For example, if a car has been broken into (whether unlocked or not and whether only minor items have been taken) should be reported, so that they can investigate, track any trends in your area, and increase patrols accordingly.
Chief Campbell also indicated that the police department is working on notifying residents about incidents using Nextdoor, but that it’s not always feasible to do so immediately. Often, it takes time for the information to be compiled and sorted. However, any resident concerned about a particular incident, is encouraged to contact their Neighborhood Watch District Coordinator, who will in turn communicate with the police department for appropriate response. The email addresses for the District Coordinators are listed on the right side of this page (click here for a District Map, if you are unsure of your district).
Sgt. Wilson continued the meeting by discussing the school lockdown procedures, explaining that there is a process in place for notification to area schools including private and parochial, and that the process is being expanded to include in-home daycare providers as well.
Lastly, Sgt. Wilson reiterated the use of Nextdoor for use as a Neighborhood Watch tool, as well as for community discussion and getting to know your neighbors. Part of the site’s purpose is “civil and respectful” discussion of community concerns, even if it leads to disagreement. While there are always online disagreements, if there is anything you don’t want to see, simply ignore that conversation and move on. Sgt. Wilson reminded everyone that the goal is to work together to help keep Speedway safe and build our community. Many in the audience responded that they were using the site, and were pleased with it. In addition, she emphasized that SPD is continuing to use Nextdoor to provide information on incidents, street closures, etc.
A brief demonstration of the site was provided, along with tips to help with email management of notifications from the site, as well as a reminder that any posts from the City of Indianapolis with regard to essential services (trash pickup, etc.) do not apply to Speedway.
Sgt. Wilson closed the meeting by thanking everyone for coming and encouraging them to continue to be involved in the Speedway community and Neighborhood Watch.