Gary seeks backup from state police

2013-07-12T18:15:00Z 2013-07-13T23:09:06Z Gary seeks backup from state policeChristine Kraly christine.kraly@nwi.com, (219) 933-4195 nwitimes.com

GARY | After enduring tiring weeks of homicides and shootings, Gary officials are seeking help from Indiana State Police. 

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said she made the request to Gov. Mike Pence's office Thursday to provide additional manpower to her city's stretched forces.

"We really need to send a message to those who are involved in violence that this is something serious," Freeman-Wilson said.

"I don't think anarchy has set in yet. But I certainly want to establish that daily killings are wholly unacceptable."

Indiana State Police Sgt. Ann Wojas said her department is "seriously considering it," and that ISP officials met with Gary Police Chief Wade Ingram and other officers Friday.

Wojas said the request must be approved by Pence's office, and she did not have an estimate on how long a decision could take. Freeman-Wilson said she hoped she would know by this weekend.

Pence spokeswoman Christy Denault said Friday that Pence has received the mayor's plea, and "we are working with the state police to evaluate the request."

Shootings and homicides have plagued Gary in recent weeks, including a triple homicide near the end of last month. Summer typically brings an uptick in violence to many cities.

But Gary's homicides are up overall for the year, to 26, nine more than this time in 2012.

The Northwest Indiana Major Crimes Task Force has worked on seven of those killings this year, including one from Thursday night, said Robert Byrd, the group's vice president.

"Gary has a dedicated team of talented homicide detectives who know the city well and who the criminals are. Working alongside our Gary counterparts is both challenging and an opportunity to sharpen our investigative skills," Byrd said. "We certainly respect the job that they are doing." 

Should Gary's request be fulfilled, it would not be the first time the Steel City has sought the state's help in managing crime.

In 1995, then-Gov. Evan Bayh sent 50 troopers to Gary during the height of the city's violent past.

Freeman-Wilson said officials, including Ingram, are pursuing multiple approaches to stemming the city's violence, not just seeking outside agency help.

"We have to deal with this on all fronts," she said. "Putting more officers on the streets is just one of them."

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