Porter County Sheriff's Department


What's Happening at The Porter County Sheriff's Department


Feds and State Work Together to Fight Crime

In this June 2008 photo, U.S. Attorney David Capp describes an investigation that led to the arrest of 37 people in connection with a methamphetamine ring.

Behind him is Porter County Sheriff David Lain, who says federal, state and local law enforcement are cooperating well in the region to crack big cases and share vital intelligence.

Feds, state work together to fight crime, pool resources


By Sarah Tompkins nwi.com Monday, March 7, 2011

HAMMOND | At one time local, state and federal law enforcement officers clung to their turf and did not welcome other agencies venturing into their territory.

But those crime-fighting days are long dead. The cooperation began a decade ago, after 9/11.

Now agencies are working together on multijurisdictional task forces, sharing resources and teaming up for training sessions so that all law enforcement officers are one step ahead of offenders, said David Capp, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Indiana.

"Local law enforcement know what's happening on the streets, and local law enforcement know who are the probable offenders in their district," Capp said. "I try to pair our resources with that ... really focusing on the worst of the worst."

Such was the case with 39-year-old Anthony Jerome Bandy.

In 2009, a man alerted Gary patrol officers Bandy was on a bike in an alley -- with a gun. Bandy led officers on a chase, according to court records, and during his arrest officers found a revolver.

But Bandy was no stranger to the system. His record included a three-year sentence for an Indiana burglary and 20 years for aggravated assault in Georgia. During a 14-year span, he had tallied 15 felony and misdemeanor offenses.

Bandy's case could have gone to federal or state court.

"We're constantly working with local law enforcement agencies to decide where do we want to file this case -- and where can we get the best sentence for the case," said Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter, who works closely with Capp and others to direct the region's caseloads.

In the federal system, repeat violent offenders deemed "career criminals" get significantly enhanced sentences -- sometimes up to life in prison. And in federal court an offender has to serve 85 percent of the sentence, unlike in state court where someone could get out early on parole.

Bandy's case went federal, and he was sent away for more than 18 years for possessing a handgun as a felon.

The federally led Firearms Interdiction Regional Enforcement is composed of local law enforcement officers. Together the group ensures those arrested for firearms violations undergo a criminal background check so the maximum charges and corresponding sentence can be applied.

But before the 2001 terrorist attacks, many officials said that type of collaboration was rare.

"I think 9/11 really was a catalyst that woke up a lot of people in law enforcement," Carter said, noting the lack of communication among agencies led to missed warnings. "(Now) I don't hear anybody saying, 'Don't step on my turf, this is my jurisdiction.' "

Last year FIRE used ballistics technology to link bullets to the guns used in about 25 crimes, according to Capp.

"We can go to another police department and say, 'You know that armed robbery from a year ago? Guess what. We've got the gun,' " he said.

From there, Capp said officers track where the gun came from, which can solve more crimes.

GRIT set stage

An earlier successful partnership that blossomed in 1996 is the FBI-led Gang Response Investigative Team, Capp said. The group's work cut the homicide rate almost in half in the late '90s, Capp said, and last year its investigations led to 112 arrests and resulted in more than 70 indictments.

Lt. Samuel Roberts, spokesman for the Gary Police Department, said the benefits stretch beyond arrest totals. Gary officers who are part of GRIT have benefited both in training and building working relationships with other departments, he said.

The partnership between federal and local law enforcement allows officers to cross the lines where one town ends and another begins for their investigation. Such movement is limited to individual jurisdictions when local police are not working with the federal government.

"The bad guys erased those boundaries years go," said Porter County Sheriff David Lain. "It's absolutely the way our industry has to operate in the 21st century -- total collaboration and cooperation among all levels of police work."

GRIT's work led to a massive indictment last year of alleged members of the Latin Kings street gang. Because of fewer limitations, investigators were able to link unsolved homicides across multiple jurisdictions.

And while murder charges normally are state crimes, Capp and Carter decided to combine them under racketeering charges in federal court, where the men still could get the death penalty.

All of the alleged Latin Kings are being held without bond pending trial, which could be years from now, according to court records. Carter and Capp said the federal courts' ability to hold offenders differs from the state system.

"In the state system, we can't do that under any circumstances," Carter said. "We have to set bail. It can be a high bail, but drug dealers can come up with that money."

Capp said in some cases, such as crack cocaine, the state system carries steeper sentences. But ensuring witnesses the offenders are not getting out often makes them more comfortable and cooperative.

And when law enforcement is investigating and building cases against suspects, Sheriff Lain said, the team mentality helps save money and maintain efficiency.

"We have a number of agencies that have certain capabilities that everyone would like to have, but because of financial constraints, you can't afford," Lain said.

Lain said Lake County and Gary openly share their helicopter with his department, and with the only trained bomb squad in the region, Porter is more than willing to offer its services any time a fellow agency is in need.

"It's what causes success," Lain said. "We cannot have too many resources."

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