The practice of furlough days for Employees of the City of East Chicago has finally come to an end. The decision by Mayor Anthony Copeland was possible through cost saving measures and increased efficiency. A significant, permanent cost saving and corresponding reduction in its operating budget have improved the City’s financial position and overall financial health.
“Let me begin by saying thank you. Thank you for all the sacrifices made during this journey that began under the previous administration. The City has reached a position which enables us to return all employees to a full work schedule. Therefore be advised Friday, August 30, 2013 will be the final furlough day.” said Mayor Anthony Copeland in a letter to all City employees.
Mayor Copeland also asked employees to be patient, in the near future, the city will also be seeking ways to further compensate employees incomes once we are on a more secure footing.
Earlier this year the teamster’s furlough days were removed. With todays announcement the city’s entire workforce will be back up to full steam. This will enable better services for the residents of East Chicago.
Several major outreach efforts have taken place this year and the results are paying off.
The development and implementation of a Citizen's Academy, includes 18 representatives from our community who took part in an 8 week session that exposed them to the inner workings of the department and provided them with an intimate look of police work. Participants heard from detectives, crime scene investigators, dispatchers, patrol officers, gang and narcotic officers and the list goes on. Many took advantage of a ride along with our officers, again allowing a first hand view of what a midnight turn can be like on a hot summer evening. In the end, all were glad they opted to join in our first academy and they now serve as our ambassadors in the community, alerting us to issues that are developing, defending us when appropriate, challenging us when needed and always searching for those to fill next years seats.
Adopt-A-School has been adopted for our patrol officers to assign themselves a school, that means reaching out to the Principal of that school and determining what police presence they wish to see with their students. That can range from weekly visits with the children, to increased patrol and traffic enforcement, walking hallways, lunch hour visits and the opportunities go on. In the end, it does represent a chance for kids to have that first meeting with a police officer to be a positive one and that makes life a bit easier down the road.
Neighborhood walks began last year and we continue to walk the streets of East Chicago this year. Officers, politicians, clergy, community activists, concerned citizens and whoever else wishes to join in, help us reach out to hundreds of citizens right at their door step. In a non confrontational manner, our citizens are asked to share their concerns, their frustrations and their hopes for this city. Our frank discussions have resulted in identifying problem locations throughout the communities and has helped us develop rapport, which leads to trust. From that relationship, intelligence is forwarded that enables the police department to move forward with the communities support to again, deal with the issues that face us all.
Last week the Department held it’s Annual Day With Our Youth Open House. Over 200 residents and families had to opportunity to meet, play games and interact with police officers. Tours were given as well as demonstrations from the K-9 Unit. There was important messages delivered by Police Chief Mark Becker and Mayor Anthony Copeland as well as a raffle with great prizes for the kids.
Our work in the community is paying off. Partnering with those who call East Chicago home or their place of work, has enabled us to find decreasing crime instances previously unheard of. In 2011 the crimes reported to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting program resulted in East Chicago being deemed by the media as the most dangerous city in "the region" on a per capita basis. In 2012 homicides totaled 4, the lowest number in years, in fact we could not locate a year when they were lower! In 2013, the FBI UCR reports the first 6 months to show an 18% reduction in violent crime from last year, we continue to trend down. "We" means the community and the department, partnered to make East Chicago the safest city in Indiana.