Nearly seven years after the Good Government initiative outlined a study and recommendations for cost savings and consolidation of government resources among the region's municipalities, it is encouraging to see the spirit of the study at play in 2013.
The Ridge Road communities of Munster, Highland and Griffith recently took a very sensible step in the combining of resources to battle violent crime. The newly minted interlocal agreement, just signed by the Munster Town Council last week, pledges that the communities will share data and police manpower in targeting concentrations of increasing gang and drug activity along the corridor.
With recent accounts of gun violence and drugs — including shootings at the Mansards in Griffith — this is a proactive step that has the potential for cost savings and increased crime fighting in the same stroke.
Positive steps are being taken at the community level as well. Griffith's interim police chief, for instance, recently sent a message that drug dealing in his town will not be ignored, with a pre-dawn raid of an alleged dealer's apartment. That raid included a cooperative use of resources between Griffith police, the Lake Station police dog unit and a regional SWAT team.
The recently singed interlocal agreement follows in that vein, increasing the participating communities' ability to share knowledge of gang and drug movements, making it far more likely to catch the bad guys.
Even better, the funding for this cooperative effort — particularly overtime pay for officers manning the interlocal ship — is slated to come from an existing $35,000 Criminal Justice Institute grant. Better policing capacity through shared resources without increasing costs to taxpayers is a no-brainer.
We can only hope this spirit of cooperation spreads to include other cities and towns in Northwest Indiana. Crime knows no boundaries. Criminals from south county drive to north county and from north to south. And the fiscal belts of local governments are sure to continue tightening in the new year. This type of cooperation makes so much sense on so many levels.