Reporting Pamela Jones
(CBS) – The smallest of crimes could get you in big trouble with cops in Northwest Indiana. They’ve launched a special team of officers from several cities – stopping dozens of people each night.
They’re aiming at connecting with residents one-on-one. CBS 2′s Pamela Jones went a long for the ride.
A special unit of 12 to 18 police officers called the “region stop team” – “stopping” dozens of people every night for anything that might look outside the norm.
“You just don’t know what you’re gonna find,” said East Chicago Police Chief Mark Becker.
Chief Becker leads the team.
They’ve hit Gary, Hammond, East Chicago. That’s the scene of the first stop.
“This is the building they normally run from us,” said Becker.
The team stops an adult and 14 and 15-year-old kids – for suspected marijuana possession.
“It’s a minimal offense. I mean, they’re probably not going to get charged for it, but we’ve got to break the routine. We’ve got to let them know that this is not acceptable,” said Becker.
The idea is stopping people for minor violations may lead to suspects who’ve committed more serious crimes.
“Caught a guy two nights ago, an escapee from the department of corrections just walking down the street. We’ve arrested a guy for attempted murder,” said Becker.
With that, it was on to Gary.
He spotted a couple of guys with a scooter he says attempted to avoid officers. Police hope the people they stop will spread the word about the enforcement.
Not everyone agrees with the stops. Chief Becker says “positive” interactions with the public are leading residents to call in tips. In the first nine days the team made 124 traffic stops and 30 arrests, for everything from minor drug possession to murder warrants.