This Indiana State Town Becomes the Crown Town for Most Violent

Indiana boasts a rich history, diverse culture, and low crime rate. Yet, safety and peace levels vary among towns and cities in the Hoosier State. Based on the FBI crime data for 2020, East Chicago in Indiana stands out as the most violent town, situated in Lake County close to the Illinois border.

Can you explain what East Chicago is and why it has a high rate of violence?

East Chicago has a population of around 27,000 individuals, with a large number of Hispanic and African American residents. It used to be a bustling industrial center, famous for its steel mills, oil refineries, and railroads. Nevertheless, the decrease in manufacturing and job losses in the latter part of the 20th century resulted in various economic and social issues, including poverty, unemployment, environmental pollution, and racial segregation.

In the 2020 FBI Uniform Crime Report, it was noted that East Chicago had a violent crime rate of 1,713 per 100,000 residents, significantly higher than both the state average of 358 and the national average of 367. East Chicago had the highest rates of murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault among all towns and cities in Indiana. East Chicago’s high crime rate has complex and multifaceted causes. Here are some factors that could contribute to it:

  • East Chicago’s median household income is $28,000, below both the state average of $78,000 and the national average of $62,000, highlighting poverty and inequality in the area. The poverty rate in the area is 36%, surpassing both the state average of 10% and the national average of 12%. Poverty and inequality may result in social and economic strain, potentially leading to violence and crime.
  • Drug and alcohol abuse is a significant issue in East Chicago, particularly among the youth. Based on the 2018 Indiana Youth Survey, 29% of students in East Chicago said they had consumed alcohol in the previous month, while the percentage was 22% for students across the state. In the past month, 23% of students in East Chicago reported using marijuana, while the percentage was 17% for students statewide. In the past year, 8% of students in East Chicago used prescription drugs without a doctor’s prescription, while the statewide percentage was 6%. Substance abuse may cloud decision-making, heighten impulsiveness, and contribute to aggressive behavior, potentially resulting in violent acts and criminal behavior.
  • East Chicago is facing challenges with gang activity, particularly involving young individuals. The Lake County Gang Assessment reports approximately 50 gangs are active in the county, consisting of around 1,500 members. Active gangs in East Chicago include the Latin Kings, Gangster Disciples, Vice Lords, and Black P Stones. These gangs participate in drug trafficking, robbery, extortion, and violence. They frequently have conflicts over territory, money, and respect, leading to incidents such as shootings, stabbings, and homicides.

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What efforts are being made to decrease violence in East Chicago?

East Chicago has acknowledged its crime issue and has implemented measures to tackle it. Here are some of the initiatives that have been put into action or suggested:

  • East Chicago has boosted its police force from 80 officers in 2010 to 100 officers in 2020. The company has also made investments in new equipment, training, and technology, including body cameras, patrol cars, and crime analysis software. The city has collaborated with federal and state agencies like the FBI, the DEA, and the Indiana State Police to improve its law enforcement capabilities and coordination.
  • East Chicago has initiated various programs and events to enhance its connection and communication with the community. These include the Police Athletic League, the Citizens Police Academy, Coffee with a Cop, and the National Night Out. The city has also urged residents to report crimes, share tips, and join neighborhood watch groups. The city has backed local organizations and initiatives that encourage youth development, education, health, and recreation.
  • East Chicago has acknowledged that violence goes beyond just a criminal justice problem and also involves public health and social justice. The city is working to tackle the root causes of violence, including poverty, unemployment, education, housing, and environment. The city has sought grants and funding from different sources like the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Indiana Department of Education to enhance its infrastructure, services, and opportunities for residents.

In conclusion

East Chicago deals with numerous challenges, particularly high levels of violence and crime. Nevertheless, it boasts a rich history, a diverse culture, and a resilient spirit. The city has made efforts to decrease violence and enhance its quality of life, but there is still progress to be made. The city requires increased support and cooperation from its residents, neighbors, and partners to address its challenges and reach its full potential.

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