Criminal Justice

New Police “Region STOP Team” Arrest During Start-up

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August 23, 2013 — A new policing initiative already has an arrest, for attempted murder, as it launches this week as a collaboration of law enforcement agencies in northwest Indiana.

During its initial week on-duty the “Region STOP Team” arrested a man for attempted murder related to an August 3 shooting incident that left three victims, including 21-year-old Ronnie Riley who was shot in the stomach.  The arrest happened even before yesterday’s announcement about the STOP Team formation to address public safety through increased police presence.

The “Region STOP Team” announced its formation to “address any and all quality of life issues that arise in the REGION, which are associated with public safety.  The team is an aggressive patrol based initiative that will reduce both violent and property crime through increased police presence, engaging the public and by facilitating intelligence sharing among The Regions law enforcement community.”

East Chicago Police Chief Mark Becker is managing the new Region STOP Team as a new law enforcement multi-agency task force.  Becker says he has been on-duty with the Team already this week, including overnight policing.

The team says its day-to-day activities are based on input, requests and direction from participating agencies, which it expects will differ among its members.  “The team is designed to be flexible, as such, its activities will include, but are not limited to, community outreach events, traffic enforcement, patrol and surveillance, all of which are directed to reducing all types of violent and property crime.”

The Region STOP Team announcement says its charter members include four full-time participants, nine part-time participants, and associated support from several supporting agencies, as follows:

“The following departments have pledged to participate on a full time basis:

  • Gary    4 members
  • Hammond   4 members
  • East Chicago  4 members
  • The Lake County Sheriff    1 member

The following police departments have pledged to participate on a part time basis:

  • Crown Point
  • Dyer
  • Griffith
  • Highland
  • Indiana University Northwest (IUN) (support as needed)
  • Munster
  • Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD)
  • Schererville
  • Whiting

In addition to these law enforcement agencies, Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter and United States Attorney David Capp, have both pledged their support in regards to related prosecutions.

The School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) in conjunction with the Center of Urban and Regional Excellence (CURE) at Indiana University Northwest, will be providing analytical support.  That support will include crime mapping and assistance in identifying the most beneficial deployment of the officers.

Although there is not a Federal law enforcement presence on the team, liaison with all related Federal agencies has been established and they stand ready to provide any and all support as needed.

The Lake County HIDTA has also been contacted as to providing investigative support, to include target/event deconfliction.”

Chief Becker has received the assignment of responsibility for direct oversight of the team.  Becker has 32 years of Federal Bureau of Investigation experience, including gang unit work as an agent in the Region, along with his standing as East Chicago’s police chief.  He notes that all participating agencies will have the opportunity to have public safety issues in their city addressed by the Region STOP Team.

“This initiative represents a very ambitious attempt by local law enforcement to combine their resources and share in the response to the challenges facing every community in Northwest Indiana.  The number of agencies involved in this initiative is impressive and reflective of the dedication that each community has as to providing assistance and collectively working together to deal with public safety issues.  The increased and sustained presence this initiative represents, combined with analytical guidance and aggressive prosecution at the local and federal level, will dramatically impact both violent and property crime occurrences.”

The Region STOP Team says it will be based at a police sub-station at 150th and Baring in East Chicago.  It invites citizens to contact the Team with public safety concerns by calling 219-398-COPS (219-398-2677), advising that callers need not identify themselves, noting the importance “to make the call and help the team help your community.”

The Team shared the following comments from leaders of departments involved with this initiative:

“The Region STOP Team will deliver a constant, full-court press on those individuals who threaten the safety of entire communities.  With NICTD having five busy passenger stations within Gary, Hammond and East Chicago, our officers work on a daily basis with their police departments and we receive a substantial amount of law enforcement support from them.  It’s only logical that we partner with these agencies to help reduce crime within the neighborhoods through which our rail lines traverse.”

Transit Chief Robert Byrd

Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD)

——–

“The Region STOP Team is proof of the evolution that is taking place within the Region’s law enforcement community.  From the past of merely communicating our individual jurisdictional issues to each other, we are now working collectively to address the issues of the entire Region that affect us all in one form or another.  I am proud that the Griffith Police Department is part of this!”

Chief Gregory S. Mance

Griffith Police Department

——–

“Law Enforcement Agencies throughout Lake County must continue to work in cooperation with each another, sharing resources in order to address the serious issue of the violence occurring in our communities…..THE FORMATION OF THE REGION STOP TEAM IS ONE MORE RESOURCE.”

Sheriff John Buncich

Lake County Sheriff’s Department

———

“The Highland Police Department is committed to working side by side with our law enforcement partners to address not only local but regional issues as well.  In these challenging times, we must remain open to new and innovative ideas in addressing quality of life issues in our communities.”

Chief Peter Hojnicki

Highland Police Department

———

“The School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) in conjunction with the Center of Urban and Regional Excellence (CURE) at Indiana University Northwest, will be providing analytical support, data analysis and mapping for the STOP team. This includes in-depth evaluation of the STOP team activities, results and outcomes on a continual basis within each community that the team operates. This work builds upon the data-driven approach undertaken and currently utilized by many of the participating agencies.”

Dr. Joseph Ferrandino

Indiana University Northwest, Gary, Indiana

——-

“The Region STOP Team will bring together local law enforcement officers to collaboratively work to reduce criminal activity through focused police presence.  The Whiting Police Department’s participation in this initiative will provide additional resources and allow the team to be more effective than any single agency working alone.”

Chief Stephen E. Miller

Whiting Police Department

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