Crisis management of crime

August 8, 10 and 12, 2006


A series of murders during one weekend in August didn’t only cause Indianapolis officials to finally take action to fix the city’s woeful public safety system. As its projects specialist, I also pushed the editorial page to tear up the paper’s old two-editorial lineup to pull together the kind of packages that ordinarily would have ran on Sunday.


The first day of the series, “Casualties of neglect,” looked at the numerous murders that happened during the year up to August and reminded readers that the neglect of public safety had made martyrs of many of their fellow citizens. A sidebar detailed one particularly heinous slaying, in which a woman and her roommate were killed by an ex-boyfriend while her children were sleeping.


The second day, discussing all the emergency measures taken by Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson in reaction to the summer slayings, also featured sidebars discussing how all these measures – and the consequences of failing to deal adequately with staffing police departments and courts – were adding up in dollars. One of the sidebars detailed how one aspect of the criminal justice system added insult to injury for both accused felons and taxpayers alike.


The final day took a look at the “Seeds of Violence,” including the academic woes of Indianapolis’ public schools system. One piece in the package followed up on the “Juvenile injustice” series written months earlier, detailing the lives of two brothers who have landed in juvenile court. Readers learned how the mutual neglect of schools and parents help foster violence on the city’s streets. 


All of this was done by a skeleton crew of copy editors and one editorial writer who simply thought of new ways of discussing one of the most pressing issues in the nation’s 13th-largest city.


The Series

Casualties of neglect [August 8, 2006]

Crisis management of crime [August 10, 2006]

Seeds of violence [August 12, 2006]

Related editorials

Vexed in the city: Underlying causes of crime continue to plague neighborhoods [Sept. 17, 2006]

Mean streets: Indianapolis tops New York, Detroit in some categories of crime [Aug. 2, 2006]

 No room at the jail: Some inmates released while others languish [June 25, 2006]