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Gary mayor cites crime spike, seeks help from state police, National Guard

This is Nov. 29 2012 letter sent from Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-WilsGov. Mitch Daniels regarding city's 'crime epidemic.' | Sun-Times

This is the Nov. 29, 2012, letter sent from Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson to Gov. Mitch Daniels regarding the city's "crime epidemic." | Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 21, 2013 3:54PM



GARY — Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson has asked Gov. Mitch Daniels to assign state police and Indiana National Guard soldiers to patrol the city’s streets because of a spike in violent crime and an undermanned city police force.

Daniels, who leaves office at the end of the month, hasn’t responded yet to the mayor’s Nov. 29 letter. His press secretary, Jane Jankowski, said a Wednesday emailed copy of the letter from a reporter was the first time she’d seen it.

With a subject line noting a “crime epidemic” in Gary, letters to Daniels and also U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder cite a national study that labels Gary as the most “underpoliced” city in the nation. The Post-Tribune reported on the University of California-Berkeley study of 130 cities on Nov. 28.

The mayor said:

“We would like to increase the presence of law enforcement on our streets and believe this can be accomplished through the assistance of the Indiana State Police and Indiana National Guard. While we greatly appreciate the assistance from the Indiana State Police in Lowell, we would like to have a more formal approach that gives them additional latitude to police areas adjacent to Broadway and Route 20 because they are state roads.”

Freeman-Wilson wrote that her administration is developing an aggressive economic development strategy “that could be undermined by this increase in violent crime.”

With Tuesday’s shooting death of a 39-year-old man, the city has already recorded 41 homicides this year compared to 34 deaths last year. In her Nov. 29 letter, Freeman-Wilson said the number of nonfatal shootings increased to 145.

Gary has about 225 police officers and because of the city’s budget shortfall, it can’t afford more police.

“A significant amount of this activity is fueled by drugs, gangs, and domestic violence. What is increasingly alarming to me is the number of victims who are not related to of this activity. A little over a month ago, Jerry Hood returned to his home to find intruders. He was shot and killed while confronting them.”

Freeman-Wilson said the city is involved in a comprehensive approach that combines prevention and community-based enforcement efforts, but “we can’t be successful without the assistance of state and federal partners.”



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