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IU Northwest News

A Safe Community: A Collaborative Model

One Region Editorial by William J. Lowe, Chancellor

Monday Jun 23, 2014

Serious crimes do not respect geographic boundaries. The same is true for offenders, and, sadly, their victims.

That is why a collaborative law enforcement and policing effort, the Northwest Indiana Public Safety Data Consortium, in which agencies work together and share data across municipalities and jurisdictions, makes good public safety and public policy sense.

From Munster to Michigan City, the pioneering Consortium, comprised of more than 15 local agencies, regularly maps and analyzes data from police and fire departments and shares the information, for insight on how to best allocate law enforcement and emergency services.

Their cross-jurisdictional, mutual-support efforts keep our communities safe, but, of greater significance, build a more educated, connected region of informed, engaged citizens.

We can all be grateful for the innovative thinking of the many police chiefs, public administrators and my colleagues at Indiana University Northwest’s Center for Urban and Regional Excellence that makes such an alliance possible.

Everyone deserves the right to feel safe and secure in their homes, and in their communities. The Consortium’s ability to use information technology and enhanced partnerships to see beyond borders is key to improving the quality of life of our region. 

As a policeman’s son, I am well-aware of the fraternal tradition of police officers working together. But this active sharing of resources and intelligence is unprecedented in our region, and a fine example of transformational modern policing.

As important as inter-agency collaboration is the role of the public. Thanks, in great part, to the Information Age, citizens now have a greater role in the safety of our communities.

Social media platforms, like Twitter and Facebook, give voice to citizen intelligence, providing officers with grassroots intelligence. Listening to the public has proven to be very helpful to officers, and, in several cases, has been central to preventing and solving crime.

Information that is easily accessible equips residents with knowledge, empowering individuals to make informed decisions about the safety of our communities, and, in some cases, reversing or altering stereotypes and perceptions.

Active sharing of intelligence also indirectly pressures the residential and commercial properties that may attract criminal activity. With the help of information technology, consumers can now make more informed decisions on where they spend their time and money, by factoring in a locale’s safety and security.

The benefits of collaborative law enforcement are clear. The Consortium’s strong network and partnerships are working, keeping our streets, our homes and our neighborhoods safer.

Crime is down across the region. The Griffith Police Department recently reported a 12 percent reduction in overall crime and a 36 percent decline in violent crimes over the past year. Likewise, the East Chicago Police Department reported that the city’s crime rate is the lowest it has been in 18 years.

In the new frontier of doing more with less, the Consortium’s efficient use of resources and encouragement of public participation offer an attractive model for municipalities.

I encourage the many and varied cities, towns and jurisdictions of Northwest Indiana to recognize the instrumental power of regional collaboration and cooperation.

The success that the Northwest Indiana Public Safety Data Consortium has already achieved shows Northwest Indiana leaders what is possible when we look beyond borders and seize the greater potential that exists for a region that collaborates.

There is infinitely more to be gained from the collective, positive, forward-looking initiatives that are possible through the combination of our resources, our knowledge, and our good will, because, in the end, we are One Region.

William J. Lowe is Chancellor of Indiana University Northwest in Gary and co-chairman of the One Region organization.

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