Crime drops in Portage; chief credits focus on drug dealers, violent crime

- BY JOHN ROBBINS Post-Tribune correspond­ent

Crime in Portage is down, way down, according to a 2013 yearend report released by the Portage police department.

Overall crime dropped 13.6 percent in 2013. That comes after a 17 percent drop in 2012.

Chief Troy Williams is excited about the back-to-back drop in crime during his tenure. He attributes the decline to a “focus on drug dealers, gang bangers and violent crime.”

The statistics bear him out. Last year, 311 adult drug arrests were made, compared to 113 arrests in 2011 and 133 in 2012.

Youthful offenders are not exempt. Juvenile drug arrests totaled 60 in 2013, compared to 33 in 2011 and 32 in 2012 arrests.

Stolen property crimes also declined, to 697, down from 812 in 2012. Likewise, the total value of what was stolen also declined, from nearly $1.3 million to less than $400,000.

The only categories of crime that have seen an increase are rape and robbery.

Eight rapes were reported in 2013, twice that of 2012. Two arrests have been made, four cases have been closed and two are still open investigat­ions.

Fourteen robberies were reported in 2013. One suspect believed to have committed three of the robberies has been arrested. An arrest warrant for a suspect believed involved in another three of the robberies is being sought from the prosecutor. In only two of the robberies are there no arrests or suspects.

Williams’ approach to policing the city is to give the officers the tools they need to do the job and then get out of their way, he said.

A more proactive approach to policing and community outreach also helps. Meetings with child care providers, sports organizati­ons and a presence in social media all make the public aware of the police and the police aware of the needs of the public.

Faculty at IUN have analyzed police records to detect patterns in criminal activity that Williams believes may lead to better deployment of forces.

Williams underplays his own role in the department and praises the men and women who “work the road, who work the scene, the reserves and the clerical staff.”

It’s a team effort that extends beyond the boundaries of Portage. The police department routinely assists and receives assistance from other local communitie­s’ police department and county, state and federal law enforcemen­t agencies and conducts training exercises with those same department­s.

“I’m not sure that Portage and Gary have ever had a better relationsh­ip than we have now,” Williams said.

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