Fighting Gary crime by the numbers
by Lori Caldwell email@example.com | 648-3258 February 9, 2013 11:22PM
Updated: April 11, 2013 2:17AM
GARY — Numbers talk to Gary police administrators, and the message means changes in the way street cops work.
“We have to fight crime at the department level,” Chief Wade Ingram said at last week’s crime analysis meeting. For the first time, patrol supervisors were invited to attend the session and participate in the discussion.
“One of the things we need to do is get our arms around crime,” Ingram said.
Comparing a 10-day period in January from the same time in 2012, crime analyst Douglas Drummond noted that rape, robbery, gunshot wounds and burglary were all down, but homicides, auto theft and arsons increased.
Ingram questioned midnight patrol supervisors about the apparent large percentage of cars stolen during the overnight hours.
“What are you doing to address auto thefts?” Ingram asked Lt. Alan Ross and Lt. Thomas Pawlak.
Ross said that many thefts are reported on his shift, but the crimes could have been taken place much earlier.
“People come home from work and park their cars, when they get up in the morning, it’s gone. That’s when they make the report,” Ross said. “They don’t get up in the middle of the night to check on their car.”
While police presence can deter some crime, Ross noted vehicle thefts also happen when residents leave their cars running unattended in the morning, especially on cold days, “That’s a crime of opportunity,” he said.
During the discussion, administrators agreed to make public service announcements discouraging that practice using the department’s newly launched Facebook page and Twitter account.
A would-be thief was shot earlier this year as he tried to drive away with a car left running in the driveway of a Glen Park home. The owner caught up to the car and shot the driver, who is paralyzed, police said.
Patrol Cmdr. Jon Cooros said he is directing his officers to focus on residential areas instead of busy streets, especially during hours when vehicle thefts and burglaries occur. “Answer your calls, but in between, stay in those neighborhoods,” he told patrol supervisors.
Beginning Sunday, Feb. 17, reserve officers will visit businesses during hours of operation, checking for loitering and other problems, freeing up sworn officers to focus on crime prevention, Cooros said.
The crime analysis report includes color-coded maps of “hot spots,” which will provide locations where patrol officers should make frequent appearances, Ingram said.
One problem with the crime data, however, is the wrong information provided on police reports.
Too often, a report shows that a crime occurred at the police station or hospital because that’s where the officer obtained information from the victim.
“It creates a big discrepancy” in the data, Drummond said. “Bad in, bad out.”