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Indiana State Police major, former interim Gary police chief presented with key to the city

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As Gary Mayor Jerome Prince prepares to leave office, he's honoring one of the key organizers behind a major initiative of his term. On Tuesday, Prince presented a key to the city to Indiana State Police Major Jerry Williams. Williams led an 18-month review of the Gary Police Department's policies and ended up serving as interim police chief.

"Wow! The little kid that grew up just a few blocks away from here, maybe a different time. The economy was different. Our infrastructure here in Gary was different. Steel mills were thriving, et cetera, et cetera. But I'm naïve enough to think that this room demonstrates that we can once again be the focal point of Indiana," Williams said.

Prince honored Williams for his 34-year career in law enforcement and willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty. He said one of the highlights when he looks back on his term as mayor is when he first proposed the partnership to Williams.

"For you not to have a complete familiarity with me and to take that request to your boss and then he to his boss, the governor, and without hesitation and to be accepted, to me, is completely humbling," Prince told Williams.

During Tuesday's event, State Police Superintendent Doug Carter, current Gary Police Chief Anthony Titus and even Major Williams himself admitted they weren't sure about the idea at first. But Carter said Williams was able to convince him, and he now believes it was one of the most important initiatives of his career.

"Jerry Williams is my hero, and he's my brother. And again, I'm just so crazy proud of him and proud of his family and proud of what he stands for," Carter said.

Speakers at Tuesday's event said the partnership broke down barriers and brought law enforcement in Lake County closer together. Williams commended leaders for putting politics aside and trusting the process.

"I went to a Republican superintendent. I went to a Republican governor, who without hesitation, said, 'Absolutely, we will help' in our endeavors to bring this to fruition for my Black, Democratic community here in Gary," Williams said.

Williams and Carter expressed confidence that their efforts would continue to guide the Gary Police Department after Prince leaves office. They said they've met with Mayor-Elect Eddie Melton and have offered to continue to help wherever they can.