We should all recognize by now that crime does not respect municipal borders; it transcends them. Crime is not mysteriously stopped by an invisible fence, preventing it from taking place in the event that the perpetrator is committing a crime in a community that is different than the one in which they reside.
This is not only true for crime it applies to many things, both positive and negative, in Northwest Indiana. Do you believe crime, flooding, poverty, hunger, economic development, public transit, tourism and the like respect municipal and state borders?
It is a fallacy to believe crime committed in urban areas has no effect on suburban areas. As a law enforcement professional of nearly 30 years, my training and experience dictate otherwise.
It is also a misnomer to blame residents of a community who, perhaps, are not as cooperative with investigations as they could be. This happens for many reasons, but the most notable are:
- Fear. These folks, mostly law abiding citizens, are afraid for their safety. If they cooperate, who will protect them? Law enforcement does not have the resources to provide 24/7 protection to citizens who cooperate.
- A lack of trust in our law enforcement community. Trust is a tricky thing. Once you break it with citizens, it is very difficult to rebuild. However, law enforcement must improve our rapport with citizens to regain their trust.
Cooperative policing is not a new concept in Northwest Indiana. For many years, we have had regional groups such as Lake County Major Crimes Task Force and the Lake County HIDTA, to combat crime in a cooperative effort. A new tool for law enforcement is analytical support, including crime mapping, provided by SPEA and the Center of Urban and Regional Excellence at Indiana University Northwest.
The Schererville Police Department, along with departments of Crown Point, Dyer, Griffith, Highland, Indiana University Northwest, Munster, NITCD, St. John and Whiting have all pledged to participate, on a part-time basis, in the Region Stop Team. The full-time team is comprised of the departments of East Chicago, Gary, Hammond, and Lake County.
This cooperative effort was put together by East Chicago Chief of Police Mark Becker, who has had a storied law enforcement career at both local and federal levels.
The Region Stop Team is about more than just combating crime. It is also about rebuilding the trust of the Northwest Indiana community in law enforcement. What the Region Stop Team is not about is politics, which has no place in law enforcement.
Why does the Schererville Police Department participate? We have pledged our support and participation because we recognize that crime transcends borders. We participate because all people in Northwest Indiana deserve safe communities. We believe in regional policing because we recognize Northwest Indiana as a whole rises, and falls, together.