Michigan City Police Chief Dion Campbell, speaking at a public safety meeting on Thursday night, called for implementation of the Flock Safety System in hope of cutting crime y 25 percent in three years. Photo by Jessica O'Brien
Michigan City Police Chief Dion Campbell, speaking at a public safety meeting on Thursday night, called for implementation of the Flock Safety System in hope of cutting crime y 25 percent in three years. Photo by Jessica O'Brien
Jessica O'Brien

MICHIGAN CITY — Responding to an increase in guns and violence, the Michigan City Police Department hosted a community meeting Thursday to unveil a plan it believes will decrease crime in the city by 25 percent over the next three years.

“This is our community, and nobody can do it alone … our goal is to have an action plan,” said MCPD Chief Dion Campbell, presenting the plan he hopes will result in action taken by the city to curb gun violence.

Campbell introduced the Flock Safety System, a system of multiple devices that can be installed at critical points throughout the city.

It will react to gunshot sounds by notifying law enforcement when shots are fired, and then initiate a camera system that captures vehicle identification information.

“This enables us to have evidence identifiers used to prosecute people,” Campbell said. “We believe this is a sound solution that is non-intrusive, that will help us get the bad guys out there.”

Cameras cost $2,500 each on an annual contract, and while the exact number and locations of potential Flock cameras have not yet been decided, Campbell said it would be crime statistics that determine where cameras would be installed, if the city ultimately approves this proposal.

Neighborhoods with a higher number of calls for service in 2021 include Eastport with 2,832 calls; Elston Grove with 1,897; and the West Side with 1,022.

Other areas with a high number of service calls included Meijer with 346; Walmart, 523; Lighthouse Place, 417; and Washington Park, 243.

In a comparison in crimes looking at the first six months of 2021 versus the first half of 2022, reports show that Michigan City Police received 18,000 calls for service from January to June in 2021, compared to 17,260 from January to June in 2022.

Among the calls in 2021 were 195 for shots fired, two homicides and four non-fatal shootings. Numbers in 2022 were similar for the most part, with 193 calls for shots fired, zero homicides – though non-fatal shootings tripled in number with 12.

Two major differences in the comparison were 79 firearms seized in the first half of 2021 compared to 176 between January and June 2022; and 827 arrests during that timeframe in 2021, with 1,135 arrests in the first half of 2022.

“Our department has increased the number of arrests, but you cannot arrest away an issue,” Campbell said.

“What we are dealing with is a heart issue, a social issue. We have to identify the root of the problems in society … and the burden falls on elected officials, law enforcement and the community.”

Sam Hay, a representative from Flock Safety, gave an in-depth description of the system to those at the meeting.

To maintain transparency, he said Flock is not a traffic enforcement system, is not facial recognition technology and does not record conversations, only 5-second audio clips.

“This data is private and local law enforcement will have access to it for 30 days,” he said, adding the goal of the devices is to look for objective evidence.

Surrounding communities currently using the Flock Safety system include Chicago, Gary, La Porte County and Berrien County.

Campbell said by connecting with neighboring communities, law enforcement agencies can assist each other and work together to reduce crime throughout the region.

The recommendation from MCPD has not yet been formally introduced by the Michigan City Common Council for a vote, but Councilwoman Tracie Tillman, who was in attendance Thursday, said she is in full support of the Flock Safety system in Michigan City.

Mayor Duane Parry, also in attendance Thursday, spoke publicly in favor of this system.

“We have a tremendous problem in our town and we’re going to overcome this problem … but we can’t do it alone,” he said.

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