Gary homicides are up 48 percent from this time last year, and surrounding police agencies and the region's top federal prosecutor are responding with a spirit of cooperation.
It's a move that defines what good government should look like in Northwest Indiana -- one hopefully that will permeate other levels of local government.
Last week, local police chiefs, state and federal law enforcement agencies and Hammond-based U.S. Attorney David Capp met to discuss a cooperative approach to tackling violent crime in Northwest Indiana. Capp is a respected and effective force in region law enforcement and should be looked to for guidance and leadership in this process.
"It's going to have to be a united effort," Lake County Sheriff John Buncich told The Times. "There's no other way to do it. The violence isn't just in Gary. It's East Chicago, it's Hammond, it's north county."
We couldn't agree with Buncich more. His department is already responding, sending eight to 10 squad cars to patrol north county nightly. But the efforts of the sheriff's office aren't enough.
Northwest Indiana's local and federal law enforcement offices deserve praise for rolling up their sleeves and realizing the timing is crucial for a cooperative solution. The three "Ridge Road" communities of Highland, Griffith and Munster have been pooling crime fighting resources for patrols among their municipalities as well, administering the effort with a federal grant.
These kinds of solutions will become increasingly important as government budgets remain strapped and hiring more officers becomes more impractical. The sharing of police resources should regularly cross city, town, county and state boundaries.
Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson also has implored Gov. Mike Pence to send in Indiana State Police patrols to help with the spiking violence issue in her city. The governor should give this request serious consideration.
But local law enforcement agencies are wise not to wait for that answer, deciding instead to begin pooling the crime-fighting resources that already exist in the county.
It's never a good policy to help any one person or entity that isn't willing to first do all they can to help themselves. The cooperative effort now underway should send a message to the governor that Northwest Indiana isn't just sitting idly by waiting for the state to save the region.
This inter-agency cooperation also is a resounding example for the fractured, self-serving elements of government in Northwest Indiana that refuse to acknowledge a greater good that can result from pooling resources.
It's time for all levels of local government to take note.