County crime rate stays same in '09
By Ken Kosky | Posted: Wednesday, February 24, 2010
VALPARAISO | The Porter County Sheriff's
Department 2009 annual report shows the crime
rate remained virtually unchanged last year.
The just-released report shows there were 1,319
major crimes during 2009, one more than the year
before. If the minor crimes are factored in,
crime actually decreased 3 percent.
"Porter County is a great place to live," Porter
County Sheriff David Lain said.
"With roughly 60,000 to 70,000 people in
unincorporated Porter County (the portion,
outside the cities and towns, served by the
Sheriff's Department), few of them -- relatively
speaking -- are touched by crime."
He said officers are doing a good job "keeping
the bad guys away from the good guys."
There were two homicides in 2009, one more than
the year before. Police said the homicides
include one in which an elderly South Haven man
was killed by his younger girlfriend, and one in
which a Morgan Township man was killed while
driving around with and arguing with his father.
No charges have been filed in that slaying,
which was just recently official ruled a
Two rapes were reported, the same as the year
before. There was one robbery, one less than the
Incidents of battery and theft decreased, while
cases of vehicle theft and burglary increased.
Lain said some prolific burglars were out
committing numerous daytime home burglaries, and
police responded by putting out extra patrols
and by asking the public to report suspicious
activity. Lain said some arrests were made and
burglaries are down substantially so far in
Lain said 2009 saw the deployment of a "flex
team," a group of officers who are freed from
regular duties so they can address the problem
of the day, like the home burglaries.
The department plans to unveil the Citizen
Observer program -- an electronic connection
between police and the public. People can sign
up to receive updates via e-mail or text
message, and they can see crime mapping online
to learn where crimes are occurring. They can
also share information with police. In addition,
authorities are kicking off a program to
encourage people to get to know their immediate
neighbors to the north, south, east and west.
The goal of that program is to get people to
look out for each other.
Chief Deputy Doug Snider said the
Sheriff's Department serves about twice the
population and covers 10 times the area of
either of the city departments in Porter County,
and does it with about the same amount of
manpower as each city department. Still, the
Sheriff's Department has favorable crime
statistics each year.
"We're proud of that," Snider said.
The 2009 annual report also showed a decrease in
accidents, and an increase in traffic stops and
arrests. Statistics from Porter County Jail show
overcrowding remains a problem, with the average
daily jail population increasing from 377 in
2008 to 405 in 2009.