Gary police chief quits, mayor appoints new chief

An ambulance takes away one of the suspects in the shooting death of veteran Gary Police officer Jeff Westerfield in Gary, Ind., Sunday, July 6, 2014. The officer was found dead in his car Sunday morning. (AP Photo/The Times, John J. Watkins)
An ambulance takes away one of the suspects in the shooting death of veteran Gary Police officer Jeff Westerfield in Gary, Ind., Sunday, July 6, 2014. The officer was found dead in his car Sunday morning. (AP Photo/The Times, John J. Watkins)

GARY, Ind. (AP) — Gary is launching a new initiative to fight violent crime after recent events that include the death of a police officer, and it will have a new police chief to lead the effort.

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson on Monday promoted Larry McKinley from deputy chief to chief. He replaces Wade Ingram, who Freeman-Wilson said resigned Wednesday after two years in the post.

The announcement followed what Freeman-Wilson describes as a series of “heinous crimes” over the past two months, including the shooting death of Patrolman Jeff Westerfield on July 6.

Freeman-Wilson cautioned that there is no “magic wand or quick fix” for the problems plaguing the city and said it will take a long-term approach to find solutions. In that vein, she announced a new anti-crime initiative called Gary For Life, which is based on a program developed in New Orleans in 2012 called NOLA for Life.

“This initiative will rest on the four prongs of law enforcement, rehabilitation, intervention and prevention,” Freeman-Wilson said. “It is a long-term strategy that will involve measurable results.”

The program will feature a hotline that allows residents to anonymously report activity that might not arise to the level of criminal activity but may still be a problem. It will also include a website aimed at raising the profile of crime victims in Gary.

“These are people’s sons, daughters, mothers and fathers, and we want to know who they were and how their lives are vindicated through the criminal justice system,” Freeman-Wilson said.

McKinley, who has been with the department for 15 years, said he wants to address morale in the police department.

“Coming from the rank-and-file, I understand the frustrations these officers go through on a daily basis,” he said. “Gary police officers are among the lowest paid in the region and face the biggest challenge of any community in fighting crimes.”

McKinley said officers will be given a salary bonus. The department also plans to add 14 officers and is in the process of purchasing new vehicles with upgraded technology.

Retired Gary police Capt. Tom Papadakis, 64, will serve as deputy chief.

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