in Porter County--those in which a police officer takes a person into
physical custody and transports the detainee to jail on a criminal charge or
charges--plummeted in the two weeks since Gov. Eric Holcomb issued his
shelter-in-place executive order, on Monday, March 23.
the first seven days of March, a total of 92 custodial arrests was made in
the county by all law enforcement agencies; during the second seven days,
88; then--in the week preceding Holcomb’s executive order, as the gravity of
COVID-19 first began to dawn on people in the region--that number dropped to
42; while during the last seven days of March, only 18 arrests were made.
For the first 21
days of March, 10 people on average per day were booked into the Porter
County Jail per day. In the last seven days of the month, only 2.5.
The drop in
custodial arrests, according to the Chesterton Police Department and the
Porter County Sheriff’s Office, appears to be a combination of two factors.
For one thing, people are for the most part abiding by the shelter-in-place
order. More people at home mean fewer on the roads, where most custodial
arrests begin: with traffic stops.
But police officers
are also using their discretion in making custodial arrests, and may be more
willing to issue court summons and release people at the scene, especially
in the case of non-violent offenses, such as driving while suspended-prior
or possession of marijuana or paraphernalia.
Chief Dave Cincoski cites a number of startling statistics indicating that,
to his way of mind, folks are “taking the governor’s orders and restrictions
-- Since the
shelter-in-place order was issued, the CPD has experienced a 40-percent drop
in calls for police service or assistance.
-- During the same
time, custodial arrests have decreased by 100 percent.
-- The number of
summonses issued in lieu of custodial arrests has decreased by 72 percent.
-- And the number
of car accidents has decreased by 77 percent.
indicates that Chestertonians are doing their part to keep themselves, their
families, and their neighbors safe and healthy,” Cincoski said. “With the
obvious decline in criminal offenses, residents are not only staying safe
and healthy, they are being respectful and responsible. I would like to
thank the residents of our town for their patience and observance of the
governor’s executive orders.”
emphasized, though, that violent crime and offenses like operating while
intoxicated will not be tolerated. “While measures have been taken and
department directives issued for the safety and health of the department’s
officers and the public they come in contact with, this does not mean that
criminal offenders will go unnoticed or given a pass,” Cincoski pledged.
“The Porter County Prosecutor’s Office has given local law enforcement some
latitude in issuing a court summons to some criminal offenders. However,
violent offenders, drunk drivers, and felony crimes will still be
investigated, charged, and suspects incarcerated.”
While grateful to
Dunelanders for self-isolating at home, Cincoski did remind residents that
the shelter-in-place order does not prohibit folks from visiting those local
businesses which remain open. “Seek out those that are operating curbside
and delivery services,” he said. “And remind yourself of the six-foot
social-distance threshold in all your encounters, even with law
The Porter County
Sheriff’s Office is experiencing much the same drop in calls for service as
the CPD has.
As Cpl. Ben McFalls
told the Chesterton Tribune, “During this coronavirus pandemic, we
believe the numbers show, particularly in Porter County, that people are
adhering to the governor’s orders, doing their best to maintain social
distance, and stay at home if possible. Fewer people are on the road, and
recently less crime has been occurring. We believe this situation has
reminded our community to cherish what we have and that life is fragile. Our
officers are ever ready to protect and serve our citizens during this
evolving situation. We appreciate this great community we serve and want to
encourage the public to continue to remain vigilant.”
“Our No. 1 priority
is the safety, security, and health of every citizen in Porter County,”
Sheriff Dave Reynolds said. “We are working closely with the Health
Department, Commissioner Laura Blaney, President of the County Council
Jeremy Rivas, Emergency Management, 911, and all the police departments. In
addition, we have been on conference calls with the Department of
Corrections, regarding the care of inmates and have established a protocol
for all arrested to ensure that they would not potentially infect our jail
“I want to thank
the judges and Prosecutor Gary Germann for working with law enforcment to
assure the criminal justice system remains intact during these trying
times,” Reynolds added.