Violent crime drops by 18 percent in East Chicago

2013-08-10T20:30:00Z 2013-08-10T23:31:18Z Violent crime drops by 18 percent in East ChicagoPaul Czapkowicz Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
August 10, 2013 8:30 pm  • 

EAST CHICAGO | Crime statistics submitted to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting program for January through June show violent crime is down 18 percent in the city compared with the same time period last year.

Violent crime includes criminal homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.

However, while there were four criminal homicides all of last year, seven have been reported in the first six months of this year.

"We're not real happy with the number of homicides, obviously," East Chicago Police Chief Mark Becker said.

He said that issue is being addressed in part by ramping up efforts with the city's gang and narcotics bureau and in regard to participation with federal task forces.

Last weekend, four men were wounded and one was killed in two separate shootings in the city. Information obtained by police thus far does not indicate the two shootings were related.

Becker said a person of interest has been identified in the first shooting, which wounded three in the 3900 block of Drummond. The Police Department is trying to track down a witness from the second shooting, which wounded one and killed East Chicago resident Glenn Patterson in the 3800 block of Euclid.

"I think we have a good probability of solving both cases," Becker said.

He said it is frustrating to see homicides increase while overall violent crime is decreasing and that retaliatory shootings lead to more frustration for police.

There has been a lack of cooperation from shooting victims as far as providing information that might lead to arrests, Becker said.

"They want to solve it themselves, or they want to take matters into their own hands," Becker said.

Becker attributes much of the overall decrease in violent crime to community outreach.

"We've knocked on a lot of doors," he said. "We've walked a lot of neighborhoods. We've tried to engage the community to gain their trust and then have them trust us to call us with the information, and I think that's paid dividends."

Becker also cited increased traffic enforcement as a crime deterrent.

The department recorded 4,209 traffic stops in the first six months of 2013. It recorded a total of 3,717 traffic stops in all of 2012.

The implementation of a Citizen's Academy, a partnership with Indiana University Northwest to identify problem areas and the establishment of the STOP Team also have helped the department in its effort to reduce crime, he said.

The STOP Team began in April after the City Council allocated $150,000 to provide overtime pay for police officers. The team has recorded more than 550 traffic stops and logged 112 arrests during a 2 1/2-month period.

But while violent crime is down, the city experienced an overall crime increase of 1 percent compared with the same six-month period last year because of a 3 percent increase in property crime.

Property crimes include burglary, larceny-theft and motor vehicle theft.

"We've got people using drugs," Becker said. "We've got people selling drugs. And if you're using drugs, you need money to buy drugs. It's just a sign of the times. We're just gonna stay on it."

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