EAST CHICAGO | It was not too long ago that the East Chicago police anonymous tip line seemed to be dormant, but then a few weeks ago came a tip that led to the seizure of marijuana and cash.
East Chicago Police Chief Mark Becker said the caller stepping forward is a ripple effect of the Region Stop Team efforts to curb crime in Lake County. The team is composed of officers from East Chicago, Hammond and Gary police departments as well as the Lake County Sheriff's Department.
While officers work together to make arrests and work on investigations, the officers also are trying to create deeper connections within the communities.
Becker said officers make an attempt to walk in the neighborhoods they patrol to get to know the residents. He said after patrolling the same neighborhood for a week, a girl came up to the officers to give them a hug.
Since the team was created in late August, officers have made 390 traffic stops, responded to 178 suspicious incidents and made 107 arrests, according to a report recently released.
On Nov. 8, the team arrested eight Gary residents, including three men who fled police. Some of those arrested face drug charges and others were arrested on outstanding warrants.
The team helped Hammond police arrest two suspects in a series of cellphone thefts and they helped Schererville police make an arrest in a series of armed robberies.
The team also seized $13,552 and 16 firearms since late August, according to the report.
Becker said eight to 15 officers work on the team 40 hours a week. Officers from Munster, St. John, Highland, Griffith, Schererville, Dyer, Indiana University Northwest campus, Whiting and Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District are part of the team on a part-time basis.
The team also works with Indiana University Northwest to analyze crime trends in the communities to determine where officers should spend their time patrolling.
"It's an exciting initiative," Becker said. "The most important statistic that you won't see is the crime that isn't happening."