Gary beefs up appeal to Pence for state police help
Post-Tribune staff report July 24, 2013 5:10PM
The Gary Police and Lake County Sheriff's Department investigate a homicide in the 200 block of Gerry Street in Gary, Ind. Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013. A male resident of the home was shot and later died at the hospital. |Sun-Times Media files
Updated: August 26, 2013 4:16PM
GARY — Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson wrote a second, more detailed appeal to Gov. Mike Pence on Tuesday, asking him to send Indiana State Police into the city to boost police presence for three months.
Since the July 11 letter, “several more homicides occurred claiming the lives of young African-American males. The situation in our community is now beyond urgent,” the mayor wrote.
Attached to the letter is a five-page, “Gary, Indiana for Life” plan that includes many operations and programs in place long before the recent jump in violent deaths here.
No one from the governor’s office returned messages left by the Post-Tribune seeking comment on the request.
The introduction to the plan calls this year’s 31 homicides “unprecedented,” citing a more than 50 percent increase over the same time in 2012.
State troopers spent three months patrolling in Gary in the fall and winter of 1995, when the city set a record 132 homicides. By this date in 1995, there had been 66 homicides. The troopers during the three-month loan conducted checkpoints and numerous traffic stops during their stay, increasing law enforcement visibility, particularly on main thoroughfares.
Freeman-Wilson wrote that the Office of Justice Diagnostic Center will visit the city in early August and will target the Tarrytown and Tolleston neighborhoods “in accessing and coordinating federal, state and local resources.” She also mentions her Anti-Violence task force, created in March.
The mayor noted that Lake County Sheriff John Buncich is sending a detective to join the Violent Crimes Unit and the city hopes to hire more officers soon. The hiring eligibility list expired months ago and the Gary Police Civil Service Commission is in the process of developing a new list. Several officers have resigned in recent months, choosing other police departments that offer higher wages or employment in other fields.
Other items the mayor stressed in her appeal are:
Continuing work by the long-standing drug court and truancy court, established last year.
A Youth Council to give “young people a voice in government.”
Block clubs and neighborhood watch programs.
Cleaning vacant and abandoned properties.
A media campaign “to highlight the cost of violence to the victims and perpetrators.”
In closing, the appeal states, “These projects are designed to preserve the quality of life and that preservation starts with having an impact on criminal activity throughout Gary.”