6 NW Indiana towns, cities make list of safest places in the state Merrillville educator receives teaching award
Six towns and cities in Northwest Indiana have been named some of the safest places in the state.
SafeWise, a website that reviews and compares home safety and security products, released its rankings last month with a list of “Indiana’s 20 Safest Cities in 2018.”
St. John topped the list, followed by Crown Point in fourth, Dyer fifth, Munster sixth, Griffith 15th and Merrillville 17th.
The rankings are based on the number of reported violent crimes, such as aggravated assault, murder, rape and robbery, from the FBI’s 2016 crime report statistics per 1,000 people in each city. If there was a tie, property crimes, such as burglary, arson, larceny and motor vehicle theft, were factored in.
If a city was below a designated population threshold or didn’t submit a complete report to the FBI, they were excluded from the rankings, according to SafeWise.
St. John Police Chief James Kveton said he’s “very thankful and proud that the community has been recognized” as number one. It’s a “joint effort” between the community, elected officials and town departments, he said.
St. John had 3.23 percent violent crime and 96.77 percent property crime, according to SafeWise.
Kveton said he agrees that property crime is more prevalent in St. John, such as shoplifting or people burglarizing vehicles. With the holidays approaching, packages stolen porches, he said.
One of the initiatives St. John police started to address property crime was the “9 p.m. routine,” he said, where each night the department posts on its Facebook page to remind people to lock their vehicles and bring valuables inside their homes.
Like St. John, Crown Point Police Chief Pete Land said he’d like to see an improvement in property theft numbers, especially with people leaving their cars unlocked overnight.
Crown Point had 2.49 percent violent and 97.51 percent property crime, SafeWise reported.
Land said his department has stepped up its traffic enforcement and made an increase in stops. It helps with traffic safety, but it also helps promote a police presence and can help with fighting other crimes, he said.
Land said they have also worked on connecting detectives and the patrol division, so that officers know what detectives are working on and can look for information that might help investigations.
“The open line of communication has really helped,” Land said.
Dyer Police Chief David Hein said he was “excited” that his town was ranked fifth.
“I think the community deserves it,” Hein said.
Dyer had 3.43 percent violent crime and 96.57 percent, according to SafeWise.
Hein said his officers “capitalize on every opportunity we can” to engage with the community, and
on he said he wishes citizens would report more issues to his department.
“We hear way too often, ‘I don’t want to bug you guys,’ ” Hein said, but “that’s what we’re here for.”
Munster Police Chief Steve Scheckel said his town’s ranking as sixth is “a tribute to the fine officers out there working very hard.”
Munster had 2.12 percent violent and 97.88 percent property crime, according to SafeWise.
“Really, our secret weapon is our residents,” Scheckel said. “Seriously. They call us if something looks out of order. They don’t hesitate to call.”
Griffith had 5.70 percent violent and 94.30 percent property crime, SafeWise showed.
Griffith Police Chief Greg Mance said, “We’re a very data driven police department” that has an analyst who identifies crime trends that patrol officers can address.
Since the beginning of the year, the department has also had a social worker who divides her time between police and schools to work with the community and help address issues that come up, Mance said.
“When it comes down to it, it’s also the hard work of the officers and staff that, I believe, deserve the line of credit,” Mance said.
Merrillville police finished out the list of Northwest Indiana towns and cities. Merrillville had 3.71 percent violent and 96.29 percent property crime.
Debbie Argenta, arts education instructor at Jonas E. Salk Elementary School in Merrillville, is one of 46 public educators to receive the California Casualty Award for Teaching Excellence. The award highlights educators from around the country cited by their peers for their dedication to the profession. Argenta will represent the state at the National Education Association Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala on Feb. 8 in Washington, D.C. Argenta, who also is the Hoosier educator of the year, has initiated and led recognition programs to inspire students to pursue art education.
Valpo College of Business dean named to committee
James D. Brodzinski, dean of the College of Business at Valparaiso University, has been selected for a threeyear term on the AACSB Continuous Improvement Review Committee.
The Continuous Improvement Review Committee oversees processes for continuation of business accreditation to ensure consistency of standards application and equity of recommendations across teams and across programs reviewed. Brodzinski joined Valparaiso University as dean of the College of Business in 2012. He is responsible for the strategic leadership, coordination and guidance of the college. Brodzinski holds a Ph.D. in human information systems, a mas- ter’s degree in organizational communication and a bachelor of fine arts in photography, all from Ohio University.
Ivy Tech Foundation awarded AT&T Aspire funding
A $10,000 AT&T Aspire contribution to the Ivy Tech Foundation has provided a technology boost to a data and security program aimed at high school students. The foundation will utilize the funding to purchase routers, allowing the school to fully implement a state-of-the-art Data and Cyber Security Computer Lab in its computing and informatics program. Ivy Tech plans to recruit 100 current early college and dual-credit high school students from Northwest Indiana to participate in the program each semester. The local high school students will assemble the routers on their own; the technology will then be used to complement classroom and lab activities.
Weichert, Realtors — Wold Group adds new brokers
Associate brokers Christine Suarez and Charlie Vasquez have joined Weichert, Realtors — Wold Group of Schererville. Suarez, who lives in Whiting, comes to the team with 10 years of real estate experience, while Vasquez, a resident of Highland, is a newly licensed agent. Weichert, Realtors — Wold Group, 746 E. Lincoln Highway, is an independently owned and operated Weichert affiliate. The office serves Northwest Indiana and South Suburban Chicago.
Grant awarded to Urban League of Northwest Indiana
The Urban League of Northwest Indiana received a $10,000 grant from the Comcast Foundation to support its Digital Literacy Outreach program. The program is a college preparatory and academic achievement program for minority youths. Serving students in ninth and 10th grades, the program is designed to increase students’ technology skills through STEM exploration and education and provide the foundation to succeed in higher education and careers.
Two officers promoted to sergeant
The Valparaiso Police Department announced the promotion of two officers to the rank of patrol sergeant. Mark LaMotte, a six-year veteran of the department, is a graduate of Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, with a Bachelor of Science degree. He also is a department field training officer and firearms instructor. Keith Perez, a nine-year veteran of the department, is a graduate of Indiana University, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, with a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice. He also is a field training officer and firearms Instructor and is part of the agency recruitment team.
— Staff report