- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 27, 2018

GARY, Ind. (AP) - The mayor of a cash-strapped city in northwest Indiana is seeking $75,000 in donations to help finance crime-fighting efforts.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson contacted several organizations and civil groups on Monday seeking donations to expand Gary For Life, an anti-crime program first enacted in 2014. The money would go toward deploying community members over a 90-day period into neighborhoods to engage with gang members and discourage retaliatory violent acts, the (Northwest Indiana) Times reported.

“A gaping hole in our (anti-crime) strategy is the existence of interceptors or community responders,” Freeman-Wilson said. “These individuals are trained members of the community who have the trust and confidence of those engaged in violent behavior and who have the ability to discourage retaliation or any other activity that would increase community violence.”

Freeman-Wilson hopes the donations will help as the city faces a $17 million budget deficit. The city is already budgeting an additional $100,000 to cover police overtime as detectives investigate last weekend’s suspected gang-related gun violence that killed one and injured 16.

Gary Common Council President Ron Brewer disagreed with the mayor’s request to expand Gary For Life, saying the money should instead go toward immediate police actions, including more overtime to make arrests in the recent shootings.



“I would rather we use the funds to get some of these people apprehended,” he said. “We should use that money to set up a fund for rewards for information leading to arrests.”

The donation requests also come amid criticism of the city’s administration in recent months after Gary’s Finance Department was found misusing millions in public safety dollars to cover the city’s payroll. Freeman-Wilson said she had no knowledge of the misuse, and that she has no intention of pulling public safety money to cover the program expansion.

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Information from: The Times, http://www.nwitimes.com

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