3 Lake County communities team up against crime
By Michelle L. Quinn Post-Tribune correspondent December 22, 2012 6:38PM
Provided Photo Rick Ryfa, Republican candidate for State Representive District 11.
Updated: January 24, 2013 6:48AM
A $35,000 grant procured by the Highland Police Department has set the stage for an alliance among it and the Munster and Griffith police departments to combat violent crime in the three communities.
Griffith last week became the second town to enter into an interlocal agreement to create a Project Safe Neighborhoods Task Force. Munster is expected to sign the agreement at its next council meeting as well.
The grant will be used to pay for officers’ overtime as they work in each other’s communities to help combat crime. The departments already have officers respond when the others need their help, Highland Police Chief Pete Hojnicki said, so the grant will reinforce the efforts.
“Criminals don’t often recognize borders, and if they’ll commit a crime in one neighborhood, the chances are good that they’ll do it here, too,” Hojnicki said. “ So we’re not going to recognize borders, either, and people will start seeing an even more noticeable police presence in their towns.”
A second component of the initiative will use crime-mapping statistics to determine when and where crime is most likely to occur, Hojnicki said. Each department keeps track of these times, so now with more bodies, they can step up policing efforts as needed.
But scofflaws shouldn’t rely on anything specific, he said.
“We won’t be establishing a pattern (as to when we’re going to be out in force),” he said. “There won’t be a particular day of the week where it’ll happen.”
Especially since often, it’s a route traffic stop that leads to bigger crimes.
“We’ll stop someone, and we may find drugs or other activity, so then we’re able to go after the source,” Hojnicki said. “A simple traffic stop can result in an arrest that goes up the chain.”
Council Vice President Rick Ryfa, R-3, and Safety Commission President Jim Marker hailed the initiative as “unique” and are anxious to get it going in Griffith.
“This is not rocket science,” Ryfa said. “The Town Council leadership and police departments get it: If we work together, we can more effectively fight the bad guys and good will eventually beat evil.
“Griffith, Highland and Munster are committed to fight crime from outside sources as well as from within our own towns in order to make our towns an even better place to live.”
The $35,000 grant is an initial amount, and the towns may be eligible for more as they see results,” Hojnicki said.