August 7,2013 — This year’s murder rate in Gary is affecting a local pastor, and it affects how a professor is analyzing the crime data for the Gary Police Department to help save lives.
While Gary leaders await assistance from state and federal law enforcement officials, several local crime-fighting efforts are underway.
Violent crime has skyrocketed in Gary, killing 33 people this year, a murder rate increase of nearly 50% in just one year.
Statistics show around 90% of the victims are black men from ages 18 to 24.
Bishop Norman Hairston II has met half of those men, unfortunately at their funerals. The pastor of The Zion Progressive Cathedral International says he has been directly involved in 16 of the 33 homicide victims’ home going services, and comforting the families has been tough.
“I kept hearing that daughter that’s maybe only eight or nine years old saying, ‘I want my daddy.’ Watching these mothers cry and their sons dying. This particular child died right in front of his mother’s house and the daughter was there.”
Hairston II says now that he’s been this close to the effects of violent crime he understands the spiritual perspective, “It is a war. The Bible says that we are in a war. That the weapons of our warfare are not carnal. We’ve got to deal with this like it really is. Secondly, it’s a spiritual war that’s going on with our young people. That have no sense of life.
Bishop Hairston says he believes the outbreak of violence is due in part to single parents struggling to raise children alone. He says many cannot afford childcare, and without it their children are left with idle hands.
“The TV is raising them. Video games are raising them, so they have no responsibility. They’re not responsible to have to cut the grass like we were and wash the dishes and all of that other stuff. So, our children are not afraid to die. Dying is easing for them, but living is hard for them. Living in a community or a world where they feel like they have nobody to look up to or mentor them.”
Indiana University Northwest professor Joseph Ferrandino works with public health and prevention for Gary’s Anti-violence Prevention Committee.
Ferrandino is looking at the spike in homicides differently, “Trying to produce some type of intervention just like you would in dealing with a public health issue. If we had 33 people with the e-bola virus in Gary, the CDC would be here shutting down the city, finding out where this e-bola virus came from, how to deal with it and get rid of it. Since it’s 33 homicide victims, we’re fairly used to that as a country, and we just say, ‘It’s a police issue,’ and move on.”
Ferrandino also provides data for the Gary Police Department’s crime analysis review, and he researched the actual dollar value associated with a gunshot victim in the City of Gary. He says on the low end it costs $50,000 to treat someone shot in Gary. On the high end that number rises to $540,000 with patients being sent to Chicago’s Loyola Hospital for special treatments.
Ferrandino says, “If we can reduce shootings as they’ve have been reduced here and save that money, now that money can be used for an intervention because we just don’t have the funds to get a thousand dollars to run a program.”
While the statistics could create more life-saving programs, Bishop Hairston is calling on area ministers to mentor young people, “We must go out there and get them. Meet them right where they are. Take off our suits. Take off our clergy collars and walk these streets and say, ‘Come on, we have something over here.’ I’m not talking about separate churches. I’m talking about us coming