By David Denson, Gary Crusader
Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said the best deterrent to crime is citizen involvement.
She continued to advance that belief during an impromptu interview earlier this week. Following participation in the city’s “National Night Out” activities on Tuesday, August 1 at Reed Park, Freeman-Wilson joined family and friends of local businessman Kevin Boyd in a memorial for the slain businessman.
Boyd was killed Friday, July 29 near the car wash he owned at 15th Avenue and Massachusetts Street. According to police reports Boyd was the victim of an armed robbery. Anyone with information regarding the incident should contact the Lake County/Gary Metro Homicide Unit at 219-755-3855 or the Crime Tip Line at 866-274-6347
While she decried the act of violence, Freeman-Wilson said it is incumbent upon those who either witnessed the crime or have information, to come forward. “We could have the best police department in the country, but if the citizens aren’t willing to step up and do their part it won’t make a difference,” said Freeman-Wilson.
Although the city’s homicide rate has decreased over the last few years, the Freeman-Wilson administration has been involved in a proactive approach to combating crime. A major part of the effort has been the “Gary For Life” initiative that seeks to bring law enforcement and the community together to address the city’s crime issue.
The mayor says the city is also in the process of hiring more police officers. While the city deals with increasing the number of officers that are needed, it has established a relationship with state and county police agencies, and over the past few years these agencies have aided in patrolling Gary streets.
City Council President Ron Brewer also attended Tuesday night’s vigil and like Freeman-Wilson, advocates the need for greater community involvement. Brewer, who has been meeting with residents and various groups across the city, said that one of the problems he finds is a distrust of police by residents.
“During the conversations we had with people in the community is that they have voiced a reluctance to open up to the police,” said Brewer. He feels that in order to bridge the trust gap police officers need to be more engaged in the community and seek to dialogue with the residents.
According to Brewer the city has been working with the police department and seeking to make sure that the officers have what is needed to do their jobs. He also feels it is important to help build the morale of the officers in order for them to be effective.
The city has been working to ensure the police department has everything it needs to protect the community said Brewer.