GRIFFITH | Town officials say violent crime is on the decline in Griffith.
"Initial reports look like we have actually witnessed a decrease," said Town Council Vice President Rick Ryfa, R-3rd.
Last month the town saw its lowest June call volume since 2001 and the second lowest since 1998, Police Chief Greg Mance said.
"We're putting our resources in the correct spots ... crime is down," he said.
Mance attributed the drop to several factors.
Patrol sectors were redrawn, he said, and Griffith, Highland and Munster police departments combined efforts in a task force.
A reinvigorated bicycle patrol also has helped because it can patrol areas where squad cars cannot reach — and where suspects do not always expect to see police officers, Mance said.
The department also has been notifying out-of-town property owners when their tenants are causing problems, he said.
"A big thank you to each police officer for the work they have done to bring down crime," Ryfa said. "The officers are doing a tremendous job."
In other business, former Police Chief Karl Grimmer had a polite debate with the council over the town's new police take-home car policy.
Grimmer supports the policy for officers who live in Griffith, but he said 18 of 27 officers live out of town.
Many towns have take-home car policies because it displays a greater police presence in the community.
Grimmer, who retired in 2006 after 13 years as chief, said those 18 out-of-town officers will only be helping other communities.
He also said the fuel and maintenance costs that result from extra miles on the vehicles is too expensive.
"Something's got to be addressed," he said.
Mance said Griffith has out-of-town police cars from other communities, including Merrillville, Hammond and Lake County.
"It is a tradeoff," he said.
Having one car per officer eliminates the customary time- and money-consuming efforts involved with shift changes where officers share the same car, Mance said. That's because the previous officer must remove personal equipment and the incoming officer must re-equip it with his own equipment.
"I think there's enough here to warrant going ahead with the program," Mance said, adding that the Safety Board can make changes if needed in the future.