The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department has about 50 officers working on a small but growing gang problem within the city. Deputy Chief William Benjamin told an audience at Arlington High School that, “We have a small problem compared to other cities, but we have a problem.”
The main speaker at the seminar was Dr. O’dell M. Owens, an in-vitro specialist turned county coroner and gang expert. He said a good education is the best defense against gangs and other crime.
In the city, the rise of Hispanic gangs is a troubling trend. Stephen Parnell, Marion County’s chief gang prosecutor, said, “We’re seeing some of those gangs, in response (to Hispanic gangs), increase their numbers.”
The influence of national gangs is still low in Indianapolis, where gangs tend to be smaller, less organized, and often short-lived, public safety officials say. “They’re basically after wealth and status,” said Parnell, “The gang territory is not a rigid as it is elsewhere in country.”
That dynamic make Indianapolis’ gang scene less terrifying than those in some cities, but also more difficult for law enforcement to target, said Parnell.