Portage crime drops 13.6 percent in 2013

2014-02-01T16:15:00Z 2014-02-01T19:16:33Z Portage crime drops 13.6 percent in 2013Joyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | For the second year in a row, the city has seen a significant decrease in crime.

Police Chief Troy Williams attributed the 13.62 percent decrease in crime in 2013 to a directed focus by the police force to carry out a simple message — "keep the city safe and put the bad guys in jail."

Williams said this is only the second time since 1992 that crime rates have dropped in the city for two consecutive years. Crime in 2012 dropped 17.54 percent over the previous year.

According to statistics provided by Williams, 2013 saw the lowest number of Class 1 crimes reported in the last 20 years with a total of 1,172.

Crime dropped in every category except rape and robbery.

Of the robberies, Williams said three were committed by one person, who was apprehended. Another three are believed to have been committed by a single individual and an arrest is expected. Of the remaining eight, arrests or impending arrests are expected in four; two have no suspects and victims were uncooperative in the other two.

Arrests were made in two of the rape cases, two are still being investigated and four were closed either at the request of the victim or for a lack of cooperation.

A significant increase was seen in the number of adult drug arrests, up to 311 in 2013 from 133 in 2012.

Williams said that is not necessarily an indicator of an increased drug problem in the city.

"When you have a directed focus, you are going to find stuff you are looking for," said Williams, adding his priorities during his two years as chief has been to combat "gang bangers, drug dealers and violent crime."

To that effort, he said, there has been an increase in the number of SWAT team call outs and an increased effort to work with neighboring communities.

"Crime doesn't know a county line," he said.

"I am ridiculously pleased with where we are at," said Williams.

Williams also contributed his department's strides with increased communication between the department and the public.

"We are making good connections with residents. We have gotten countless comments with residents. An informed community is more apt to call when they see something suspicious," said Williams.

Williams said the department was down two officers at the end of the year with two leaving on disability. The department is in the process of filling those positions and hoping to grow the department by one member in 2014.

He said they recently began the hiring process and handed out 262 applications, the most ever.

"That says something about the department and the city," Williams said.

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