Communities United Against Violence held an anti-violence summit Saturday in Gary. This anti-violence message needs to spread throughout the city — and beyond — so residents become more eager to share information with police and take other actions to break crime's grip on their lives.
There are many ways to fight crime, some obvious and others less so.
Crime flourishes where neglect is visible. This is perhaps most evident where derelict buildings abound. Those structures are havens for crime.
Citizens should press the city and the federal government for funds and action to knock down derelict buildings. Buildings that can't be saved must be razed so neighborhoods can be saved.
But it's not just about City Hall and the federal government. Citizens can and should spruce up parks and residences. Mow lawns at adjacent unoccupied properties. Pick up broken glass and other litter.
Form neighborhood watch programs. Get to know the people who live nearby, build friendships and watch out for each other.
Mentor children through programs like the Boys & Girls Clubs, church groups and others. Show youths there is a better way than to succumb to the gangs and others who prey on them.
Above all, stop enabling crime by failing to report it.
"If those of us who know better remain silent, then the small minority of people who are committing crimes will take over," Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said. "The overwhelming majority of our young people are law-abiding, God-fearing people. We could put 500 or 600 police officers on the street, and it still won't matter unless we come together as a community."
Sharing tips to police about suspicious people gathering in a neighborhood, cars speeding frequently on residential streets with young children nearby or other potential crimes can be scary for citizens worried about retribution.
But it's through reporting possible crimes that the process of ridding a community of the criminal element begins.