By David Denson, Gary Crusader
Former U.S. Attorney David Capp was the guest speaker at the Gary Chamber of Commerce’s Monthly Business luncheon on August 10, 2017.
Capp who served in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for 31 years and was among the U.S. Attorneys asked by President Donald Trump to resign said perception continues to be a problem in the efforts to combat crime.
“We all know that we have some serious crime issues in the region, but the broader problem is one of perception. What we often find is how these crimes are perceived as being limited to one community,” said Capp.
How the various crimes are viewed, as being one that plagues certain community, is the wrong approach and should be addressed as a regional problem. Otherwise, the crime and criminals simply move from one community to the next destroying its economic health, stability and safety.
“The U.S. Attorney’s office is uniquely posed to address those problems,” noted Capp.
He said there is a need for the community to become engaged in addressing the problems and that the business community and the private sector can play a major role in addressing the issues of crime. “I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I believe that by bringing in the private sector, along with community involvement, we can begin to address these regional issues,” said Capp.
Capp suggested that meeting with the police departments and the prosecutor’s offices on a regular basis could be a good place to start. “The business leaders in the greater Gary area are the future in many respects and they determine where Northwest Indiana goes. As you continue your work keep in mind that you can be an important voice in law enforcement because the economic development and law enforcement go hand in hand,” added Capp.
Capp was nominated in 2009 by President Barack Obama to head the U. S. Attorney’s office. In that position he handled numerous public corruption cases in the Northwest Indiana area.
During Capp’s tenure his office took a hard stance against public corruption in the area. He led major efforts to stop corruption, including Operation Lights Out and Operation Restore Public Integrity.
The most recent federal prosecutions on his watch were charges against Lake County John Buncich and Portage Mayor James Synder. Last year his office successfully prosecuted former Lake Station Mayor Keith Soderquist and his wife Deborah.
In addition to attacking public corruption, Capp’s office focused on fighting gang and drug related crimes in Northwest Indiana.
Despite the efforts by his office to fight crime, some of the tactic used have come under criticism for having the media do the work for them. “When I was U.S. Attorney as a practice I gave out my phone number and encouraged citizens to call me if they had information. Sometimes citizens would bring us valuable information that would lead to an indictment. Occasionally, we have seen something reported in the media that we find may be worth looking into,” said Capp.
Although he is retired Capp believes that the U.S. Attorney’s office is better equipped to take on the job that it is tasked to do.