MICHIGAN CITY — Overall crime in the city increased 0.1% in 2021, Police Chief Dion Campbell said. Digging deeper, however, reveals revealing statistics that will influence future police work.
Violent crimes decreased by 0.33%. Firearms offenses increased by 22.78%. Crimes against the person decreased by 5.75%. Sexual offenses decreased by 10.52%. Property crimes decreased by 4.14%. Interference in government, which includes resistance to law enforcement, increased by 4.29%. Drug-related offenses increased by 10.63%.
There were six homicides in 2021, compared to eight in 2020. Nationally, there was a 30% increase in homicides, Campbell told the city council in its annual report.
“We know guns are a big problem in our community,” Campbell said, so the department has been aggressive in collecting guns. Almost twice as many handguns – 165 – were taken off the streets last year.
Lax gun laws and easy access are “very, very concerning,” Campbell said. A proposal in the Indiana General Assembly would remove the requirement to obtain a license to carry a handgun.
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The total number of calls decreased by approximately 10%, to 37,355 in 2021. However, an additional 679 incident reports were completed and a 24% increase in arrests.
“We actually arrested 384 more people than in 2020,” Campbell said. There were 22 other minors and 362 other adults arrested.
The city saw an almost 13% increase in the number of accidents, to 1,218. “I find there’s a very significant increase in accidents,” Campbell said.
Council members received a detailed report on high call volume areas including the Eastport, Elston Grove and Westside neighborhoods, Walmart, Lighthouse Place, Meijer and Washington Park.
“A lot of those stats will determine what we do going forward,” Campbell said.
“One of the things that tells me, first of all, is that we’re short on manpower,” he says. When he joined the department, it had 100 officers. There are only 73 left. Two officers have recently been hired by Chesterton.
“We really need to hire quality agents and retain quality agents. It is necessary to bring us to a quality salary, ”said Campbell.
Traffic operations need to be strengthened, including the ability to saturate areas where there are high numbers of incidents. “That’s one of the things we’re looking to build on as our numbers increase,” he said.
The Detective Division is its other main focus. “That’s why we are actively looking to hire.”
“We will develop a street hawk unit” to ensure targeted enforcement of firearms and violent crime, he said. “We will put this unit in place as soon as we have our figures where we need them.”
“I think the MCPD is in a great place,” he said. “That just brings us to this competitive salary.”
Campbell wants the police service to be community driven.
“I think we have to implement things now and not let the future happen unprepared,” he said. “There’s nothing to blame anyone for. I think it’s a good time, a great position for us to work together.
Councilman Gene Simmons, D-6e, is a former police chief. “You need to have more officers to be proactive,” he said. “It’s a key element, being out there in the community and doing more initiatives.”
Councilman Bryant Dabney, D-1st, said the city should consider using American Rescue Plan Act funds to subsidize Ring doorbell systems in exchange for being able to see the video and get leads on the shootings. Shot spotter technology should also be considered, he said.
Campbell said he would work to set up a council workshop on law enforcement technology.