FRIDAY, JANUARY 6, 2023
Senator Eddie Melton’s Reaction to Gary Public Safety Press Conference
First, I give my sincere thanks to Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter as well as Gov. Eric Holcomb for providing support to the Gary Police Department since April 2022. I want to congratulate Indiana State Police Major Jerry Williams on his appointment as Interim Chief of Police. I believe he has a love and commitment for the City of Gary. I also believe that he has the knowledge and ability that the department needs at this moment to help stabilize the Gary Police Department after several years of the current administration’s failure to provide consistent and stable leadership.
I observed today’s press conference where the appointment of another interim police chief was made by Mayor Prince. This is the first time that I am aware of in the city’s history that an administration has been unable to hold onto a permanent Chief of Police for at least a full year. If Mayor Prince had appointed a permanent Police Chief at the onset of his administration, the intervention of the Indiana State Police would not be necessary, and the residents of Gary would not be looking at a third and possibly fourth interim Chief in Prince’s first term.
According to Mayor Prince, his search committee identified three qualified candidates including candidates from within the department. It is unclear why he was unable or unwilling to move forward with these candidates and appoint a permanent chief.
After communicating with officers of GPD, I am aware of the low morale that exists among them. That’s why it’s extremely important that they have consistent leadership now. As Mayor, I will focus on incentivizing our officers in order to retain them versus losing them to other surrounding agencies offering higher wages, better benefits, and better equipment and technology.
Let me be clear, as a leader in this community, I want Interim Chief Williams to be successful in his new role for these next six months. I am willing to offer my assistance in any way that I can. However, I don’t believe that a six-month commitment will yield stability to the Gary Police department, which is in dire need of steady leadership.
Responsibility for this situation starts and stops at City Hall. The Prince administration has gone three years without identifying a Chief to lead our officers and that’s unacceptable. I believe that you can’t build a strong department on an unstable foundation. This pattern of going from one interim chief to the next interim chief demonstrates his lack of confidence in our dedicated sworn officers, and a lack of belief that with proper training and resources, we can build a qualified command staff and leadership structure within this department.
I appreciate Superintendent Carter’s foresight, and dedication to the Gary Police Department. Voters of Gary will have the opportunity to choose a new Mayor in the coming months. This hopefully will lead to stable strong leadership in our Police Department and our entire City.
As Mayor, I will fight every day to get the funding, resources, and proper training to build the stable and strong police force that our residents and our dedicated officers need and deserve NOW.