By Senator Joe Donnelly
Hoosiers have the right to live in peace. Yet, too many of our friends and neighbors are living in fear. Just this past weekend, seven people were shot in Broad Ripple, and we lost an IMPD officer during a gun battle on the Eastside. I recently hosted a series of meetings in Central Indiana to discuss violent crime, heroin use and prescription drug abuse. What I heard more than anything else is that we will have to work together at the city, state and federal levels to make things better.
In Marion County, I heard from family members of those lost to violence, from young people facing peer pressure, and from community elders concerned about the need for mentorships, opportunities to learn skills and trades, and preventing the trafficking of illegal guns by criminals. These are complex issues that will require everyone from educators to employers to law enforcement to elected officials to work together. As your U.S. senator, I want you to know I am willing to partner with others in any collaborative effort to make our communities safer. More specifically, I am working and will continue to work on leveraging federal resources to benefit state and local crime-fighting and prevention efforts.
There are ways we can all work together to reduce crime. I'm working on providing resources to assist law enforcement in acquiring the tools and personnel needed to keep our communities safe, funding grants for community coalitions to put together long-term strategies to address violent crime, and supporting programs to fight the drug use and abuse epidemics.
It is clear that our police officers need more resources to fight crime and help address the conditions that lead to violence. I also have heard repeatedly about the need to collaborate and find long-term solutions. That is why I support the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program, a pilot program that provides research and implementation grants to community coalitions consisting of law enforcement, residents, school districts, housing authorities, and other community groups to develop long-term plans for addressing crime. This program is operating in Evansville, and in May, I supported a similar proposal submitted by a coalition focused on the Haughville neighborhood in Indianapolis.
In Fishers, I brought together stakeholders to discuss the ongoing and emerging impact of prescription drug abuse and the rise in heroin use throughout Central Indiana. I heard from law enforcement, school leaders, and elected officials about the challenges they face keeping drugs off our streets and the need to educate young people. To help fight the drug epidemic from the federal level, I recently introduced legislation with Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., to develop best practices for prescribing pain medication and related pain management, provide law enforcement with tools to fight heroin use, and establish a national awareness campaign to highlight the dangerous link between prescription drug abuse and heroin addiction.
I believe every Hoosier has the right to live in peace with the opportunities to take care of his or her family and retire with dignity. Working together to leverage our local, state and federal resources, I am hopeful we can achieve this goal.
Donnelly is Indiana's junior senator.