EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - Mayor Lloyd Winnecke, Police Chief Billy Bolin, and Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding held a press conference Wednesday morning to address the recent shootings in Evansville.
They discussed the ongoing efforts to address violent crime as well as staffing changes to combat the growing problem of gun crime in our neighborhoods.
According to police, 19 people were murdered in the Evansville community in 2017. Police Chief Billy Bolin said the majority of those killings were somehow connected to drugs. Wednesday's announcement included changes to their gang unit to address violent criminal activity, adding more resources and other law enforcement partners.
The gang unit will be split into two divisions. For the first part, police will continue their intelligence work and outreach to families of children they believe may be heading down the wrong path.
The second part will take that intelligence to the streets and arrest those involved in the violent criminal activity.
Mayor Lloyd Winnecke said he's confident in EPD's decision to split the gang task force into two divisions and make better use of their resources.
Police will also continue their work with the FBI and ATF task forces, as well as partnerships with Indiana State Police and the Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Office. Chief Bolin has also assigned an officer to the U.S. Marshals Task Force.
The chief said they plan to use every law possible to lock up offenders which could also mean federal charges.
"Our FBI counterparts, our ATF counterparts, we are both full partners with this and every arrest we make, we're going to review with them and our prosecutors on which side we can get the most time out of. If we can lock you up for a longer period of time, that's the route we're going to go with you because we're tired of these shots and these murders happening," said Chief Bolin.
These changes to the gang unit are effective immediately. While no new funds are being used, that could change in the future. Mayor Winnecke said money from the recent local income tax increase could become available to help address the increase in violent crime.
A recent case in Evansville includes the shooting death of D'Angelo White. He was killed Monday night. There have been no arrests.
Another case under investigation is the Saturday shooting death of Michael Pardee. Two people, DaSean Summers and Donovan Thomas, have been arrested.
The mayor said several people have reached out to him over the phone, in person, and on social media. He said those worried about violent crimes should reach out to police and use the anonymous WeTip hotline.