SPJ Best In-depth Reporting
Entry Driving Down Gary’s Murder Rate Walsh SPJ.mp3 Radio In-depth Reporting
Soon after he was hired, Gary, Indiana Police Chief Wade Ingram began visiting the families of each homicide victim in the city. It was a way to connect with a city that was seeing a spike in violence, after years of declining homicide rates. Reporter Steve Walsh road with the chief in October, just as Gary equaled the number of murders for all of 2012.
The totals were still less than half of what they were in the 1990s, when Gary was often dubbed the murder capital of the US. In July, the rising murder numbers still led Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson to ask Indiana Governor Mike Pence to send state troopers to help stem the violence. The Republican governor instead offered a state police assessment of the department.
The Indiana State Police assessment was released the same morning as Walsh drove with the chief to the homes of victims. The study pointed out long-standing flaws with the department, which could make curbing the number of homicides more difficult for Gary. The state police questioned whether the mayor’s office and city council gave the chief enough authority to run police department.
The story was the culmination of a year-long look at the escalating violence. As the chief traveled with a group of local ministers, he put a human face on the tragic loss of life for our listeners.
The entry includes a 5 minute recorded piece which also ran throughout the Indiana Public Broadcasting network, which originally aired October 10, 2013 on Lakeshore Public Radio. The entry also includes a compilation of two stand-alone interviews with Indiana State Police Commander Dave Bursten and followed by Gary FOP President Sam Abegg, which aired live just after the Indiana State Police released its report, critical of Gary police. They were interviewed by live on Lakeshore Public Radio’s daily public affairs program Regionally Speaking, hosted by Steve Walsh. Their interviews were cut and re-aired together locally as a segment during Morning Edition and All Things Considered, beginning October 7, 2013. These were two of several interviews with key decision makers, which addressed the causes and potential solutions to Gary’s rising murder rate, which aired throughout 2013, including interviews with police from throughout Northwest Indiana, the mayor of Gary, the Indiana State Police and the Gov. Mike Pence.