The Lunch and Learn program for April 19, 2023, was scheduled for a presentation by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security on natural disasters. However, the tornado in Whiteland and the plastic recycling warehouse fire in Richmond required their personnel in those areas. We were blessed to be treated to two excellent Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers who graciously stepped in to speak to issues in the Southeast District: Officer Andrew Shelar, a 19-year veteran and Sgt. David Gard, a 25-year veteran.
They spoke about personal safety and security and answered many questions from the group.
- What can a person do to protect themselves? Carry Mace or pepper spray?
Yes, but you need to feel confident you will use it. You need to practice how you would react in this stressful situation. Can you reach the spray readily in your purse or pocket? A noise-making device won’t deter an attacker, but if other people are nearby, it could alert others to your situation.
- Officer Shelar and Sgt. Gard both emphasized being aware of your surroundings. Many people walk looking at their phones and don’t see potential threats. Try not to park next to large vehicles where you may not be visible to other people.
- Indiana is now a “constitutional carry” state. Background checks are mandatory to purchase a firearm, but anyone has the right to carry a firearm with certain restrictions depending on their police record or lack thereof. The officers stressed recording firearm serial numbers and descriptions in the event weapons are stolen. Weapons are often stolen and traded for drugs. A drug bust may contain many stolen firearms, but police have no way of returning weapons to lawful owners without proof of ownership.
- Potential areas of a home for break-ins — Unlocked windows, dark side of house, area that may be out of sight from neighbors, overgrowth of shrubs and bushes by windows or doors.
- Remedies to minimize break-ins — Motion sensor lighting, alarm company signs, dogs, anything to set off an alarm to cause robber to think police have been notified.
- The officers stated television news can make you feel stressed, but a large majority of crime is committed by criminal-oriented people, and these are targeted attacks caused by an argument or some disagreement. Criminals are mostly 14 to 30 years of age, and the justice system does not do a very good job in helping them.
- Street racing is an ongoing problem. Reports can be made on an Indy.gov website (https://www.indy.gov/activity/send-a-traffic-complaint). Social media is an instigator of these organized events and participants can more locations readily, making it difficult to stop. IMPD and Indiana State Police work together to minimize this.
- Domestic disturbance and/or mental health calls are difficult. The Southeast District has only one pair of police officer/mental health person available.
- The Southeast District covers 85 square miles and 200,000 people. If every officer is on duty per shift, there are only 24 officers available. In all there are 1459 personnel counting detectives, operations personnel, and duty officers. Recruit classes used to number in the thousands but are now only 300-400 applicants.
- Personal protective gear — Provided by the city for duty officers, However, the K-9 units and horse patrol units pay for their equipment and individual citizens can contribute for these items – protective vests, etc.
- Officer Shelar stated they conduct active shooter courses and can also come to a person’s home to advise on ways to enhance safety.
The Lunch and Learn attendees were unanimous in their appreciation of the outstanding service of all the officers of the IMPD.
Please click here for an IMPD List of Common Scams.
Submitted by Al Eckstrand (aka???)