A Thursday night forum addressing the rise in the number of violent homicides in Indianola in 2019 received widespread community support and Police Chief Edrick Hall, who called for the public round-table, said he was pleasantly surprised at the turnout.
“It truly showed me that the citizens have high concern for the crime that's in Indianola,” he said.
Afterwards, Hall said that the meeting gave him an opportunity to hear what gang members, the families of the victims and others who have lost loved ones due to the violent crimes, had to say about the issue. He said, “It was a consensus that the entire city realized that it wasn't just a police department issue, it was more of an issue for the entire community.”
Reflecting back on those who spoke during the session, Hall said he felt as though it was the concord of the community that the crimes are not just a police department issue, but one that would require the cooperation of the citizens. "And that does not excuse us or remove us from the equation of doing our jobs, but it will only make our jobs better when the citizens treat us like that and take that type of stand," he said.
The chief said he was able to glean at least three plausible ideas as a result of the input from the citizens. First, he plans to implement a camera log at the police station. “Every citizen that has a camera around their home, we’ve asked them to call into the police station and we're going to build a log to keep up with those cameras,” Hall said.
He explained, “So, if a crime occurs in a certain area, it will help the investigators do their job more thoroughly. Cameras, they don't blink, they never miss anything, they can't be intimidated.”
According to Hall, Mayor Steve Rosenthal and others are researching possible funding for vandal-proof cameras that cannot be shot down, so they can be placed in targeted areas where they get a high volume of shots-fired calls.
Secondly, Hall is considering a curfew. “As it stands right now, it’s nothing that is in place or in effect, but most of the citizens were in agreement that something should be done,” he said. Hall asserted he doesn’t expect to receive 100 percent acceptance with the idea.
Hall presented his curfew concept to the Indianola Board of Aldermen on Monday night and explained that he was only looking to implement it on a temporary trial basis. “I’m not asking for this to be long-term,” Hall told the board. He suggested maintaining the curfew for two weeks and then reporting back to the board on its effectiveness.
Third, Hall has requested that each Alderman select two people from their ward to sit on a standing committee that he plans to meet with every two weeks. “The people from that ward will then be engaged with the police department to continue to bring ideas in and concerns that they may have,” Hall said.
He said the long-term goal is for the group to go back and meet with the people in their wards and appoint street captains for each street.
Plans are already in the making for a second meeting in April, and Hall said he would like to meet quarterly. He said he is working on securing a larger venue to better accommodate everyone.
In addition, Indianola’s top cop said he also has a meeting set with some former and current gang members who would like to help. “They want to get out there and try to talk to the kids to see what they can do to help reach the youth. There may be some youth they can talk to in a language that we won’t be able to,” he said.
He reportedly closed out the forum by verbally encouraging the citizens to retain the level of energy that was shown. “The same energy you have tonight about being your brothers and sisters keepers, keep that same energy going forward.”
He said if the citizens were to keep a strong level of enthusiasm that would cause the criminals to realize that they're going to have to live right or leave the city. He hopes that the next meeting will afford him and the citizens the opportunity to build on the goals that were set as a result of the session.