The Region Stop Team is a good approach to law enforcement in Lake County. This new initiative pools police resources to improve efficiency.
The full-time team of 13 officers from Gary, Hammond, East Chicago and Lake County police will perform community outreach, traffic enforcement, patrols, surveillance and other investigations, primarily in the urban area, East Chicago Police Chief Mark Becker said.
In just its first two nights on the streets, the Region Stop Team arrested a person wanted for attempted murder; conducted numerous traffic stops that resulted in the identification of gang members, the recovery of small amounts of drugs and the arrest of three people with outstandard warrants; and gained important insights on street level drug operations.
That doesn't include the number of crimes prevented, because there's no way of telling how many would-be criminals wisely changed their mind when they saw the increased police presence.
The Region Stop Team has pledges of support, on a part-time basis, from Crown Point, Dyer, Griffith, Highland, Indiana University Northwest, Munster, Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, Schererville and Whiting.
In addition, the School of Public and Environmental Affairs and the Center of Urban and Regional Excellence at Indiana University Northwest will provide analytical support, including crime mapping, that will help in determining where to deploy officers.
This could, and should, be the future of law enforcement in Northwest Indiana.
Already, we have other examples of how interdepartmental efforts are proving fruitful.
The Lake County Major Crimes Task Force is designed to put extensive resources to bear on crimes when the leads are still hot, and the Lake County HIDTA (High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) team includes Porter County representation as well. There are other examples as well.
This emphasis on cooperation should be expanded after Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson's urgent request last month for Gov. Mike Pence to send Indiana State Police assistance to Gary.
Pence should expand this effort with the support of the Indiana State Police. Keep up the cooperation among agencies, especially for a focus on major crimes.
The Region Stop Team's emphasis on traffic stops will help get information to solve those major crimes. State police support for it is needed.