By Giavonni Nickson
Gary Police Chief Richard Allen, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and city leaders expressed their grave concern regarding the number of homicides that have occurred in Gary since the start of 2019. Twelve people have been killed within the city limits according to recent Police Department reports.
In response to the alarming increase in the number of homicides, Mayor Freeman-Wilson and Chief Allen outlined an action plan to immediately implement aggressive enforcement, address drug addiction, increase police patrols, engage block clubs, and increase the police force through emergency hiring.
Police Department Aggressive Enforcement
The Gary Police Department will address the supply of drugs through aggressive enforcement efforts. The department will pay special attention to locations where drug activity is prevalent. These places will continue to be identified through undercover investigations, anonymous tips, and data analytics.
During the State of the City Address Mayor Freeman-Wilson urged all residents to show their love for the city and work with 311 and City Hall.
Gary 311 is a free application that allows residents to report community issues, pinpoint the issue location with GPS, and attach photos from a smartphone. Gary residents can use the online crime reporting portal to report battery, intimidation, lost property, telephone harassment, theft, threats, and vandalism.
The online reporting tool frees up police personnel to pursue more serious crimes by allowing residents the ability to start the paperwork and reporting, moments after an incident occurs.
The City of Gary created an internal Citizen Response Network to handle non-emergency service requests. Citizens are reminded to call 911 for stricter emergencies.
The City Addresses Drug Addiction
City officials are aware that Gary is not exempt from the opioid epidemic that plagues other communities. The issue of drug addiction is being addressed through work with the Second Chance Program, Edgewater Systems for Balanced Living, and other local providers to ensure that those addicted to alcohol and other drugs have access to treatment and counseling.
The Gary Police Department Increases Patrols
The Gary Police Department will partner with other law enforcement agencies and task forces. The High-Intensity Drug Traffic Area team, Gang Response Investigative Team, Lake County Drug Task Force and other entities have joined forces with the Gary Police Department to increase patrols in targeted high crime areas.
Gary for Life which includes the 10 Point Coalition, Gary Police Department and other law enforcement from the state, county, and federal levels, neighborhood watch, and block clubs will continue to utilize partnerships to help reduce crime in the city.
Engage Block Clubs
The Gary Police Department will engage Block Clubs by encouraging residents to proactively use the anonymous tip line to report drug activity in residential areas. Any member of the public with information should contact the Crime Tip Line at 866-274-6347, the Gary Police Department at 219-881-1210 or Lake County Metro Homicide at 219-755-3855.
The Police Department Emergency Hiring Process
The Gary Police Department will work to increase the number of police officers to 180 through an “Emergency Hiring” process. An additional goal of reaching 190 officers has been set as the Gary Police Department seeks additional funding through other resources to be determined.
Chief Richard Allen and Mayor Freeman-Wilson both acknowledge the continued hard work of Gary police officers. Chief Allen urges members of the public who may have information to place themselves in the shoes of victims’ loved ones.
“If something happened to you, I know you would want someone with information to contact the police and assist with holding the perpetrator accountable,” said Allen.
Mayor Freeman-Wilson added, “We want residents to know that we take your safety seriously and have a concrete plan to get the results you want and deserve.”
Giavonni is a passionate freelance writer native of Gary IN. She covers business, politics, and community schools for the Chicago/Gary Crusader.