If you want to curb a pressing social or government problem, shine a light on it.

It's a main tenant of the news business and good government that sunlight is the best disinfectant.

That notion also is the premise of an innovative idea being used by Michigan City police. The practice merits repeating elsewhere in Region communities challenged by high crime statistics.

Michigan City police have begun augmenting night patrols using nonstop flashing police lights in an attempt to deter crime following an increase in gunfire and drug-related complaints.

Even Mayor Ron Meer has been out in an unmarked police car, participating in Operation Shed Light on Crime.

As many as eight additional police officers worked for two hours on a recent Friday evening on the city's north end in addition to the regularly scheduled patrols.

The flashing overhead lights and spotlights created a highly visible police presence in neighborhoods where crime deterrents are needed, Meer said.

It's a dramatic way to put criminals on notice: Michigan City police are spotlighting their behavior and stand ready to arrest them.

"Anybody involved in any criminal activity at that time is going to really think twice about what they're doing," Meer said.

Michigan City isn't the only community to pursue such an approach.

But such good ideas deserve repeating. From Michigan City to Gary, any community struggling with crime could benefit from an Operation Shed Light on Crime approach.

The news business subscribes to the notion that shining a light on our society's ills is the best way to correct those problems.

Most law enforcement officials agree that a strong police presence, when managed effectively, is one of the most effective crime deterrents.

A Princeton University study released earlier this year concluded that cities which increased police levels by 3.6 percent saw decreases in violent and property crimes of 4.8 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

Operation Shed Light on Crime literally combines both concepts in a fashion easy for other communities to emulate.