Deterrence for criminals is low and communication between law enforcement agencies isn’t any better, according to attorney Mike Loomis.
And those are just a few of the factors that led to Allen County’s record-tying number of homicides in 2013, he said at his law office Tuesday morning.
Loomis announced that he’s running for Allen County Prosecutor in an attempt to stamp out the homicide problem here.
“I can no longer stand by while my community is under siege,” he said during a news conference before reporters and TV cameras.
Loomis is a Fort Wayne native who served as chief deputy prosecutor between 1997 and 2001.
A Republican, he initially joined the prosecutor’s office in 1993. Loomis also served as a deputy prosecutor in Marion County for a time.
His likely opponent in the May primary will be current Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards, who is expected to run for reelection.
One of Loomis’s ideas to strengthen a deterrent for crime is to implement a year-round grand jury.
This, he says, will require witnesses to testify in cases and is a practice routinely used in federal court.
When asked during his news conference whether he’s factored in the costs it would take to seat a year-round grand jury, Loomis said the strengthening of the “deterrent value” would be the payoff.
“I think we’ll save more in the end,” he said.
Loomis also noted that this would take away the choice of witnesses coming forward.
If summoned by a grand jury, they’d have to testify or face consequences.
No longer could they keep quiet or decide not to go to the authorities if they witnessed a homicide.
Yet, Loomis said he understands their fear to speak up in homicide cases.
“I think it’s naïve to believe citizens want to come forward in a homicide case,” Loomis said.
He also stressed a desire to beef up the prosecutor’s investigation division as well as improving communication between various law enforcement agencies.
An annual homicide conference would bring all departments involved in such cases – the police, coroners, prosecutors, others – together to discuss trends in killings.
“I just don’t think communication is where it needs to be,” he said.
Loomis also called for the community itself to be more proactive in tackling the homicide problem.
In his plans, there would be efforts to reach out to youths through peer courts in high schools, all-night basketball and other weekend activities, including youth clubs for entertainment and mentoring.
All of this to keep young boys and girls from joining gangs.
“I don’t think we as a community are as proactive as we need to be,” Loomis said.
For more on this story, see Wednesday’s print edition of The Journal Gazette or visit www.journalgazette.net after 3 a.m. Wednesday.