Indy is on a dry drunk when it comes to crime

Dateline: Wed 09 Aug 2006

A dry drunk is somebody who knows enough not to drink alcohol but lacks the fortitude to do the necessary gut-wrenching work to address the internal problem.

Indianapolis is on a dry drunk with its murder rate.

City leaders are making a lot of appropriate-sounding noise -- call it dry-drunk mealy mouth -- but nobody is really talking with honesty or integrity about what ails the city from the inside out.

Witness today's Star, which reported that 49 of the 93 homicide victims in 2006 are black men.

Many -- 18 total -- are also young black men, aged 20 to 29, the paper said.

Stats are nice, and the reporting is good, but this is not exactly read-all-about-it news. During the 1990s, under editor Frank Caperton, the Star did a series on crime that drew some outcry from black reporters on the staff and the city's black leadership. They objected to the paper's presentation: too many photos in the series showed black kids being handcuffed or in trouble. Oops, we told the truth, and people did not like it.

Then executive editor Frank Caperton initially took a tough stance regarding the critics: "This newspaper is not doing PR for the black race," he told me. Yea, Caperton.

Maybe the Star should take a cue and stop doing PR for the city's current failed black leadership. That would start with not indulging the ego of City-County Council Prez Monroe Gray. His handwringing, as quoted today, is phony. "We need to do something...to keep our kids out of the system...the African-American community has to step up and take responsibility."

Ask the guy the tough questions --

Why did Gray put the kabash on Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi's plans to seriously address jail overcrowding? Why is he still The Man after bragging that he has the "juice" to shoot down the prosecutor's good action plan? Where is his sense of responsibility to this city?

This is about politics, as everyone knows. It's about putting down Brizzi so a Dem can win the prosecutor's race.

In the midst of playing all these politics, Mayor Bart Peterson has failed utterly to keep pace with public safety issues. He would rather scape and bow to dry-drunk black leadership.

For starters, the Peterson principle didn't want to pay for more police a few years ago. Now we reap the result. Blood in the streets.

The police are doing everything in their power to keep a lid on. But as one officer said, "Cops cannot patrol for homicide."

Also, there's this theory, put forth by an upstanding IPD officer some months ago -- once the bad guys know the city does not have the kahunas to do the job, they will take over. It's sorta the slimy underbelly of our thriving Downtown convention industry: the word on the street with the drug-dealers, murderers and thieves is "Welcome to Indy, ratface. Detroit, come and take a big dump on our Eastside. Hey Chicago, didja hear -- Indy is soft as a new-born kitten and ready to be eaten alive?"

A strong police force that has the administration's total backing is the first civilized antidote to crime.

This is not to ignore, however, that Indianapolis' black community needs to do an honest internal inventory.

With that in mind, how about a Star story that asks these questions:

How many of those doing the killing or being killed had fathers at home?

How many had been taught to respect something besides their own brimming egos?

Let's start really addressing this issue and quit the dry-drunk bullshit. Because people are dying.

Email me at ruth@ruthholladay.com

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