That Lake County's urban center remains notorious for the highest murder rate in the region -- despite a general decline in violent crime across the region -- is no surprise.
Still, what family members claim to be the two-year ordeal suffered by 13-year-old Christian Choate of Gary -- the last year spent allegedly starved, beaten and imprisoned in a dog cage -- stunned not only the region but also the nation.
Perhaps no other case, except that of the death of 5-year-old Leon Walker, also of Gary, so roiled law enforcement and the general public that many began to question not only the effectiveness of public safety but also the lack of cohesion among entities expected to protect the public, particularly children.
Alleged to have run away from an abusive family only to be returned there, Leon's body was so covered by scarring and new injuries a normally reticent Lake County pathologist went public to express his shock.
Authors of the Northwest Indiana profile on public safety present data on a broad range of crime-related issues across the region, but also point to the need to go beyond merely collecting bare-bones data.
For example, what are the sociological and demographic factors behind the crime plaguing the region, particularly Lake County?
How can crime data and other intelligence be shared for more efficient policing, better community involvement and a deeper understanding of crime and its causes as preventative measures?