Report: Crime in region remains steady

2012-11-06T00:00:00Z 2013-02-10T11:08:08Z Report: Crime in region remains steadyMarisa Kwiatkowski marisa.kwiatkowski@nwi.com, (219) 662-5333 nwitimes.com

Northwest Indiana violent and property crimes remained steady between 2010 and 2011, continuing to buck a decline at the national level, recently released federal statistics show.

Lake and Porter counties' municipal police departments reported 23,645 crimes in 2011 to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Those agencies reported about 23,642 crimes to the FBI in 2010.

The FBI's report details the number of murders, rapes, aggravated assaults, burglaries, robberies, thefts, motor vehicle thefts and arson cases within individual communities.

Burns Harbor, East Chicago, Highland, Lowell, Merrillville, Porter and St. John all recorded increases in total crimes, overall crime rates and violent crime rates, a Times analysis shows.

Gary had the highest overall crime rate in the region in 2011, with 74.1 crimes per 1,000 residents, a Times analysis shows. East Chicago reported the second-highest crime rate, with 73.6 crimes per 1,000 residents.

East Chicago also recorded the highest violent crime rate, with 8.5 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, the figures show. Gary had the second-highest violent crime rate in Northwest Indiana, with 7.9 crimes per 1,000 residents.

Hebron recorded the lowest overall crime rate in Northwest Indiana, with 4.5 crimes per 1,000 residents. Schererville listed the lowest violent crime rate in the region with 0.4 violent crimes per 1,000 residents.

Gary's overall crime rate and violent crime rates are higher than 2010, even though its number of crimes declined in every category except burglaries.

That increase is the result of the FBI modifying its population figures to match the 2010 census population count. Gary sustained a nearly 22 percent drop in population during the last decade, U.S. Census Bureau figures show. The census listed Gary's population at 80,294 in 2010, down from 102,746 in 2000.

Gary's reported violent crimes in 2011 were the lowest in at least 13 years.

Gary Police Chief Wade Ingram said his department boosted its police presence and is focusing on community involvement and preventative measures to combat crime in the city. Those measures include crime suppression units, an anonymous tip line, gun buyback programs, increased foot patrols, enforcement of curfew laws and peace marches, he said.

East Chicago Police Chief Mark Becker said his department has taken steps to reduce the number of crimes in the city, including using increased police patrols and traffic enforcement.

Becker and other officers have walked neighborhoods throughout the city, speaking with residents and business owners about what scares them, what police services are lacking and what the department can do better. Becker said his department will put a strategic plan together to address those issues.

"It's not that we don't recognize the problem -- we do," Becker said. "But like all municipalities in the country, we're faced with certain financial restrictions. It's our job to find ways to work around them and make East Chicago a safer place."

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