Terry Curry, the Democratic candidate for Marion County Prosecutor, rolled out a major policy plank on August 5. It's his plan to deal with the problem of gangs in the community.
Curry's plan made the Indianapolis Star. The Star's Jon Murray writes:
Terry Curry, the Democratic candidate for Marion County prosecutor, outlined his plans to deal with Indianapolis' gangs this morning at a news conference. Curry is running against Republican Mark Massa; see below for his campaign's response.
Curry said he would focus on three broad areas:
Changes to state law and how it's applied, including lobbying the legislature to make the definition of a criminal gang more comprehensive, boosting criminal gang activity from a Class D felony to a more serious charge and bolstering civil tools such as forfeiture to go after gangs.
Staffing at the prosecutor's office, including devoting two full-time adult gang prosecutors and one assigned to the juvenile level and using grand jury investigators as liaisons to police gang units.
Education, by which Curry means assisting police in efforts to provide training on gangs and cultural issues to schools, crime watch clubs, neighborhood organizations and other government agencies. The idea is to enlist the community better in identifying and deterring gang activity.
While police have said Indianapolis' gang activity largely amounts to many small, loosely organized gangs instead of the large gang organizations that plague many large cities, Curry said the problem should be treated more seriously. Until recent weeks, he said, gangs were Indianapolis' "dirty little secret"; that was before the Indiana Black Expo shootings and another mass-shooting this week that left two people dead (and six more injured) on the Near Northside.
Curry said outgoing Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, a Republican, has not put the full force of the office behind assisting police in tackling gangs despite hopeful efforts undertaken on other fronts over the last year. "In order to effectively confront and dismantle gang enterprises," Curry said, "we must commit to a comprehensive, long-term and consistent strategy in which the prosecutor's office is a committed and effective partner." Brizzi focused on gangs in the 2006 campaign, but in Curry's view, Brizzi's practice of assigning gang duties to community prosecutors and high turnover in his one full-time gang prosecutor position have diluted any efforts.
Asked to comment on Curry's plan, Massa's campaign manager, Kyle Walker, wrote via e-mail: "The Massa campaign is not about feel-good rhetoric and rehashing programs already in place. It is about hammering criminals, and no one has a better record of doing that than Mark Massa."
Curry spoke on the Near Eastside, at the entrance to an alley on Ohio Street just east of Randolph Street. Behind him was a one-story building covered in what looked like old graffiti tags.
How about that flippant response from the Massa campaign? If he's not about "feel-good rhetoric" then why did he do that news conference earlier this year urging Carl Brizzi to resign and then propose ethics reform within the Prosecutor's Office. Isn't that kind of supposedly a given with a Prosecutor?
I think that the Massa Campaign response shows its love of the status quo. Why try to prevent gang violence before it happens? Massa clearly just wants to continue to deal with the results.
Sometimes the best way to deal with crime is to take care of it before it happens. Bravo to Terry Curry for making both ends of this issue a priority.