Four new officers recently joined Merrillville’s police force.
Stanley Thompson Jr., Christopher Trotter-Borrelli, Roberto Espinosa and Thomas Sarsfield were sworn in during the town council meeting Jan. 9. Each of the officers will attend the Northwest Indiana Law Enforcement Academy for about 16 weeks.
“You guys don’t know it yet, but each and every one of you are going to have something special to contribute to this police department even though you’ve never had any prior law enforcement experience,” Police Chief Kosta Nuses said in a press release.
After attending the academy, the officers will spend time with field training officers before they are available for assignment.
The Merrillville Police Department now has 65 officers. The town was budgeted to have 61 officers, but Nuses advocated for increasing the force to enhance the department’s crime prevention efforts. The town leaders adjusted the budget to fund the salaries for the four new officer positions.
“We can’t wait until you’re out on the street, and you’re 10-8 (in service/available for assignment),” said Rick Bella, town council president.
The swearing-in ceremony coincided with National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. The council approved a resolution honoring all the people who are dedicated to keeping the community safe. The council also recently authorized a budget of up to $150,000 to equip the police department with crime-fighting drones and an accident and crime scene reconstruction tool.
Nuses said the tools will play an important role in enhancing safety.
“Criminals have gotten smarter, so we have to beat them at their own game,” he said.
The police department is also starting a goal-oriented policing program. The department’s detective and patrol divisions will meet weekly to look through the week’s calls to determine action plans. For example, if there is a rash of vehicle break-ins, the team will come up with solutions such as identifying targets and conducting saturation patrols. The new program should start by the end of January.
“This is something I’m really excited about,” Nuses said. “This is just going to be another step forward to keeping the crime levels down and keeping the residents and visitors safe in the town of Merrillville.”
Located in Lake County, Merrillville officially became a town in 1971. It encompasses about 31 square miles. Merrillville has about 35,000 residents.