Northwest Indiana has entered a new era of regional cooperation when it comes to police work. It's paying off.
East Chicago Police Chief Mark Becker said recently the number of traffic stops in his city is way up, which has led to a decrease in crime. This is basic police work, but with a twist.
It's a credit to the Region STOP team as well as Becker's commitment to increasing traffic stops by his department.
Becker said overall crime in East Chicago decreased 6 percent compared with 2012, based on numbers reported to the FBI.
The overall total of 1,957 crimes reported for 2013 is East Chicago's lowest since 1995, the earliest year for which these records have been kept.
Police made 10,600 traffic stops in East Chicago in 2013, compared with 3,717 in 2012. That's almost 29 traffic stops a day last year.
"I'm very happy with the increase in traffic stops," Becker said. "We're a very active Police Department."
But other officers have become active, too. The formation of the Region STOP team, combined with crime mapping efforts through Indiana University Northwest, has put extra pressure on the criminal element in East Chicago and nearby cities.
And that's not counting other interagency efforts to fight crime in the region.
In Griffith, crime was down 12 percent, Police Chief Greg Mance said.
Mance credited not only his officers' efforts, but also the department's partnership with the Center for Urban and Regional Excellence at Indiana University Northwest, which helped the department deploy its resources more effectively.
Partnerships with residents and owners of rental property helped, too.
Crime in Hammond is down 5 percent from 2012 and down 48 percent since 2003, according to Police Chief Brian Miller.
Other departments also are seeing positive results from regional cooperation. Keep it up.
This is the kind of unity Northwest Indiana needs.