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Merrillville crimes are down but more serious

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Merrillville crimes are down but more serious

Crime in Merrillville has gone down, but a new-to-the-police-department method of tackling it has revealed crime is more serious in nature, according to its top cop.

Of the more than 2,000 calls for service the department received for March, 64 arrests have been made; as well, officers made 443 traffic stops, Merrillville Police Chief Kosta Nuses told the Town Council at its March 26 meeting.

Crime, however, is like “fashion,” he said, and some “disturbing trends” have popped up as he’s been compiling statistics.

“We used to have a lot of criminal mischief in calls and thefts, and those are crimes of low severity with not a lot of danger to the community. But those times have changed,” Nuses said. “Right now, we have detectives working on cases that involve the production of (child sexual abuse materials) in Merrillville. We are having assaults with weapons, we are having criminal recklessness assaults, and a newer one we’re seeing is a spike in undocumented immigrant theft – they’re breaking into cars and stealing stuff from stores, which is causing a real problem.”

Overall, Lake County is seeing an increase in meth, crack cocaine and heroin as well, he said, calls for which the Merrillville Fire Department has been handling more than previously.

The department since 2023 has been implementing “goal-oriented policing,” which sees patrol disseminating the facts they gather daily to the detectives: frequency of crime, the areas and times in which they’re occurring, and all other associations.

As a result, the method has produced more suspects and more arrests.

Stronger ordinances by the town also go a long way toward helping the department clean up crime, he said.

“They might not sound like a big deal, but they can be,” he said. “You take the little things away, then it doesn’t allow them to build up.”

The new efforts have also resulted in conviction rates as high as 90%, which was previously unattainable, plus the town’s homicide rate is the lowest it’s been in eight years, he said, with at least three homicides prevented with the help of various task forces.

“My vision is working,” he said.

The Town Council’s Council Affairs committee will meet at 5 p.m. April 2 at Town Hall to discuss further abandoned and blighted building ordinances.

Michelle L. Quinn is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.



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