Does it really help to know that an assailant was, say, a 6-foot-2 blond, upper middle-age white male? Not really. Those guys are everywhere. I'm one of them. But at least when somebody of that description is mentioned, every one of the huge selection of men in my universe isn't thought of as a potential criminal.
The hero we deserve...
Now substitute a black male with black hair. All of a sudden all black men of that description are considered suspect.
That's an injustice from my perspective and from the perspective of most other editors. Most Americans, when they think of crime, fall victim to a racial stereotype.Let's be honest. When black men commit crimes there is an unfair tendency to blame all black men. Not so with whites.
Here's another truth: When The Star doesn't print a description of a black suspect alleged to have been involved in a crime, my phone will ring and my e-mails will pile up with messages that angrily accuse us of bowing to the evil forces of political correctness.
When the authorities seek a white suspect and we don't print the description, I don't hear a peep. That speaks volumes, don't you think?
That doesn't mean we should have a blanket prohibition against using suspect descriptions. After reviewing policies of several newspapers and discussing the matter with colleagues, including our public safety team, we decided on this policy:
"We will publish descriptions of suspects from public officials or eyewitnesses only when the descriptions are distinct enough to differentiate the person from all but a narrow group of people. The description would likely include a combination of physical characteristics and other identifiers such as age, race, height, weight, hair color, haircut, tattoos, scars, clothing, jewelry, glasses, getaway cars, etc. The use of such descriptions is likely to be rare and must be approved by a senior editor."
Indianapolis Metropolitan police have arrested three men in connection with the robbery of an East 79th Street home Tuesday and the sexual assault of a woman inside.
Today’s arrests also appear to connect the men to a similar crime committed Oct. 24, when a group of men armed with guns tied up the owners of a home on North Spring Mill Road, ransacked their house and made off in one of the victims’ vehicles. Police say property found during the investigation that led to today’s arrests belonged to the North Spring Mill Road homeowners.
Trey Spells, 18, was arrested and preliminarily charged with rape, criminal deviate conduct, robbery and criminal confinement, authorities said. He has not yet been processed at the Marion County Jail.
Michael Pugh, 21, was arrested and preliminarily charged with serious violent felon in possession of a firearm. He is being held on an $80,000 bond.
Earlier today, The Indianapolis Star reported that 23-year-old Alexander Dupree was arrested and preliminarily charged with rape, criminal deviate conduct, robbery and criminal confinement, according to a police report. He is being held on a $200,000 bond.
Police say the investigation is ongoing. Earlier they said the attack in the 800 block of East 79th Street was carried out by as many as four or five men, who also shot a woman and stole three vehicles from the Far Northside home shortly before 7:30 a.m. Tuesday.
The two women were sleeping at the time, a police dispatcher said. A woman in her 50s was shot in the leg and taken to St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
She and her husband, who is also in his 50s, were inside the two-story brick colonial with their daughter, who is in her 20s. The men forced their way inside the residence, police said, and at one point forced the women to drive to an ATM and withdraw money.
Although the crime was initially reported as a robbery, the incident was later categorized in a police report as a rape.
As police continue to investigate a string of violent home invasions in northern Marion County over the past several days, neighborhood groups are taking action.
The violence started Oct. 24 when four young men armed with guns robbed a home in the 7000 block of North Spring Mill Road. Police say the homeowners were tied up while the men ransacked the house and made off in one of the victims’ vehicles. The victims also were assaulted and sustained minor injuries.
Tuesday morning, about 3 miles away, four men broke into a house in the 800 block of East 79th Street in the Windcombe neighborhood. They shot one woman and assaulted another before fleeing in the victims’ three vehicles.
Both incidents remain under investigation, and police will not publicly speculate as to whether the invasions are related.
But local neighborhood association representatives say they are concerned about the rash of crime and are looking for ways to keep one another safe.
“These last incidents were extremely brazen, and I think that’s what’s terrified people,” said Terry O’Brien, a Meridian Hills town councilman. Meridian Hills borders the site of the Oct. 24 incident and is close to the second.
“Your heart goes out for the families that were affected, but it does put the fear of God in you when you think you can’t go in your backyard to rake leaves or leave your garage door open without something bad happening.”
O’Brien said Meridian Hills is planning a meeting for its residents and has been consulting with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and the town’s part-time police patrols.
In the Windcombe neighborhood, the attitude is similar. Paul Forbes, president of the Windcombe Neighborhood Association, said he has contacted CrimeStoppers and officers at IMPD about how the neighborhood can best proceed after Tuesday’s home invasion.
“We’re keeping everybody abreast of everything we know,” Forbes said, adding that he hopes to hold a meeting with residents and police officers in December.“I’ve been here 23 years,” he said. “It’s outrageous. Nobody would think that that could happen here.”