Lake County's largest communities could take a crime-fighting tip from some neighbors to the south. Joining forces could help combat crime.
A new federal grant request by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute would pay for police in Hammond, East Chicago and Gary to examine public safety data in the communities and target specific neighborhoods or geographic areas for stepped-up enforcement efforts.
Extra patrols and other efforts would address gun and gang-related crimes.
It is not much different from efforts in the towns along Ridge Road that are working together on providing extra patrols in those adjacent communities.
Joseph Ferrandino, who helped write the grant request for Gary, Hammond and East Chicago, is an assistant professor of criminal justice at Indiana University Northwest's School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Ferrandino said he maps crime data geographically to show where certain incidents occur and where the hot spots are.
"We're looking for shootings, robberies and anything that can be very serious," he said.
Comparing data over time will help determine whether changing law enforcement strategy has resulted in a decrease in crime rates.
Ferrandino said the university is providing the mapping at no cost to the participating communities.
"The first part is for them to be more effective in what they do, especially in these budget times, to really focus and understand when the calls come in and how many officers should be on a shift compared to certain days of the week," Ferrandino said.
This analysis of data to guide law enforcement efforts should help agencies deploy resources more effectively.
Grant the request to combine certain anti-crime efforts in Hammond, Gary and East Chicago.
The ridge communities are showing some success in that regard, and it's needed even more urgently in the urban core.