Lake County Sheriff Making Changes As They Move To Go More Proactive

A recently published article in a local newspaper stated the disbandment of The Lake County Metro Homicide Unit which assists Gary Police in dozens of homicides yearly. Currently to date for the year 2022, the unit consisting of 3 Lake County Detectives and 3 Gary Detectives is handling 52 homicide cases. 


Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez told RNS Thursday evening, “We are not disbanding anything as another headline was worded. We are reallocating our resources and transferring many officers throughout the department as we begin a more proactive approach to fighting crime.” “The three officers who will be reassigned from the Metro Homicide Unit at the beginning of the new year are part of this shift and the transfers will also help the Lake County Sheriff’s Department deal with a staffing shortage,” Martinez explained.  “Like Gary Police Department, we simply need more officers.  We currently have at least 10 officers who are off work because they are on medical leave or have been called to active military duty.”

The Crime Scene Investigations unit will continue to work 24/7; collecting and processing evidence to assist the Gary Police Department with homicide cases.  Much of our CSI’s work is responding to crime scenes in Gary, and they will continue to do so, Martinez said.  “In addition, we have dedicated 5 specialized units with more than two dozen officers working leads and developing intelligence for crimes in Gary and throughout the county – but again, the bulk of that work involves investigating incidents in Gary, Martinez said.  These units include the High Crimes Unit, Drug Task Force, Narcotics, Auto Theft and Detective Bureau.  Martinez also added that they bolstered The Crime Intelligence Unit, which is now made up of a team of dedicated analysts who continue to serve the citizens of Gary and beyond by retrieving video, cell phone and other electronic evidence and intelligence.  These officers will continue to fight crime and bring some sense of closure to the families of homicide victims, but they will also have a new focus on getting ahead of violent crimes and reducing the types of crime that often lead to homicides.

Those efforts are also enhanced by Martinez’s joint overnight enforcement operations which happen at least twice monthly.  “These operations gather some 30 officers from law enforcement agencies across the county to try to stop crimes including carjacking and other auto thefts, drug trafficking, traffic violations and more, Martinez added. Because Gary is located at the crossroads of interstate transportation, these special operations are often focused there.  In addition to making arrests and solving crimes, these enforcements bring an increased police presence to the city of Gary on a frequent basis.

Martinez added he also has taken great strides to improve the relationship between the Lake County Sheriff’s Department and the people who live in neighborhoods across the county.  “We have made a concerted effort to attend outreach events in Gary and elsewhere to build ties and trust; understanding that we need the public to help fight crime,” Martinez said. “I get it, many homicides go unsolved because people who have critical information are afraid of retaliation if they talk to police,” Martinez said.  “I understand that people still have to live in neighborhoods touched by violence; and they fear for their safety if people suspect them of “snitching.” That’s why I have launched multiple platforms people can use to help solve homicides and other crimes.  These resources are open to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The most recent platform, Tip411, allows people to text tips anonymously.  The system allows police and the texter to “chat” – and police never even have the texter’s phone number.  All you have to do is text the keyword LCSO and your tip information to 847411. This year, the Sheriff’s Department also launched a new hotline – 1-866-U-SPOT-IT, or 1-866-877-6848.  People can call that number to leave a voicemail with information on crimes or other suspicious activity. 

“It’s my hope that all of these efforts will strengthen our collaborative effort both with the Gary Police Department and the citizens they serve,” Martinez added.

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