Indianapolis - Metro Police are offering a deal to a few suspected drug dealers: live crime-free, get help, and all criminal charges will be wiped away.
It's part of a new program meant to make streets safer and prevent young people from getting into the prison system.
In a drug bust Wednesday morning, Metro Police nabbed 30 suspected drug dealers at Heart's Landing Apartments on Indianapolis' east side. They were all caught on camera, selling drugs to undercover cops.
Now dozens of the suspected dealers with violent criminal pasts are facing some serious jail time. But three of them are getting a second chance, a rare chance to wipe the slate clean and make a deal with police.
We're putting a pause button on the prosecution for their Class A felonies and showing them the other options that are available out there, said IMPD Commander Chad Knecht.
In exchange for signing a pact with police, the three men will avoid arrest, the drug charges and the jail time.
They must agree get help turning their lives around through mandatory counseling and career training utilizing community resources.
But they have to agree that they will not sell drugs, possess drugs, commit violent crimes or possess firearms for the next five years, Knecht said.
If they don't show up for meetings or violate the terms of the agreement, the deal would be off. Charges would be filed and they'd be headed to jail.
Anita Thomas is the aunt of one of the suspected dealers.
To see that there's an option before you get to prison, this is the best thing that they've got on the plate right now, she said. I'm excited to see that there's something put here for him to say I got a chance.
Today is a tipping point for these three individuals. They can go forward, change their lives or fall right back into that bad behavior, Knecht added.
This program is a first for Indianapolis, but police say it's been successful in other big cities.
It hinges on community support. Family members, ministers and community leaders all attended Thursday's meeting, telling the three young men they had their support; take the deal.
When you show this kind of compassion and you put this kind of a choice in front of someone, it has a tremendous impact psychologically, said James Jackson, Pastor of Fervent Prayer Church. We've got a lot of good people who are rallying around this effort. I believe it's going to work.
Police say all three men agreed to take the deal. They will be monitored over the next 5 years to make sure they're staying clean and getting help.
City leaders hope to expand the program, if it's proven successful.
Jul 02, 2010