Improving public safety in Indiana

Posted by: Kim Heffner  | Friday, March 13, 2015

I have always been a strong believer that communities thrive when their people support each other and give their time to help one another. I recently had the opportunity to give back to the Indianapolis community by volunteering my time at the Julian Center.

As part of the House Republicans’ initiative to address public safety in Indiana, Republican and Democrat Representatives and staff spent time at the Julian Center, an Indianapolis organization that provides support to victims of domestic violence. I was able to spend time working in the kitchen, preparing ingredients for future meals the shelter provides for those it houses. Other volunteers spent time compiling toiletry kits and handling crisis calls. The shelter also provides a daycare for the children of women at the facility, and some of the House volunteers spent their time playing with the kids.

Because of my history in law enforcement, I am unfortunately well acquainted with the domestic violence issues in Blackford County. Volunteering at the Julian Center allowed me to gain a clearer picture of the challenges facing Indianapolis, a much more urban area of the state. Each type of environment has its own struggles with domestic violence, but regardless of the place in Indiana, domestic violence is a topic that our state must address. The General Assembly is well aware of this, as our prioritization of public safety reflects. The House passed two bills in particular that deal with issues of domestic violence and public safety in our state.

The House proposed budget, House Bill (HB) 1001, doubles funding for domestic violence prevention initiatives in Indiana. Between June of 2013 and July of 2014, more than 1,700 victims of domestic violence were turned away from shelters because of overcrowding. The additional funding will alleviate the financial stress on shelters and ensure that organizations such as the Julian Center in Indianapolis and Hands of Hope in Marion are equipped to address the needs of their communities.

Another bill that addresses public safety is HB 1016, which allows newborn safety incubators to be used in Indiana. The incubators will be placed outside of hospitals, police stations, fire departments and some non-profit organizations. They provide alternative locations for mothers to place infants they are unable to care for, rather than abandoning the babies to the elements. The incubators, which are climate controlled also provide for anonymity of the mother, which will hopefully work as another way to address the issues associated with infant mortality in Indiana. These incubators are climate controlled, and placing a baby inside trips an alarm in the responsible facility, alerting a responder to retrieve the infant immediately.

Our goal in the General Assembly is to represent the needs of each Indiana citizen, including those whose voices are being suppressed by domestic violence or neglect. Unfortunately, there is not a bill that will rid our state of domestic violence or abandonment, but it is important for us as a Legislature to try to find ways to address these issues in any way possible. I appreciate your suggestions and feedback regarding these and other matters that concern Indiana. I can be reached at 317-232-9509 or at h31@iga.in.gov.

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Rep. Mahan represents portions of Blackford, Delaware, Grant and Wells counties. He serves as Chairman of the Government and Regulatory Reform Committee. He also serves on the Family, Children and Human Affairs; and Insurance Committees.