Studio 4 to offer healthcare workers free hair care services –

Munster Officer Luke Tambrini patrols Calumet Avenue.

MUNSTER — From reckless drivers zipping down Calumet Avenue to carjackers looking for their next target, Munster police have to keep a sharp eye on their ever-growing community. 

Before Patrolman Luke Tambrini, 36, joined the Munster Police Department in June, he worked in communities across the Region, including Newton County, Hobart and Lynwood. 

In Lynwood, Tambrini met his partner for life, Daunte the police dog; however when Daunte was severely injured, he was faced with losing his K-9 partner. With a lot of time and support, Daunte, now a retired dog, has recovered and enjoys life at home with Tambrini, his wife and two children. 

Today, Tambrini patrols Munster and its heavily traversed roads, where occasionally cars clash with unlucky buildings along Calumet Avenue and Ridge Road. 

This episode of the “Riding Shotgun with NWI Cops” series takes viewers around Munster in the midst of the holiday season.

This episode of the “Riding Shotgun with NWI Cops” series takes viewers around Munster in the midst of the holiday season.

Q: How long have you worked in law enforcement and where have you worked?

A: I have worked in Munster as of June this year. I have been in law enforcement for about 12 years. I started off as a reserve deputy in Newton County. I was there for two years and was laid off from my full-time job and got sponsored by the Northwest Indiana Law Enforcement Academy. After graduating from NILEA in 2010, a couple months later I was hired full-time for Hobart Police Department. I was there for approximately two years full-time and then took the opportunity to go to Lynwood, where eventually I became a K-9 handler for Daunte. I was in Lynwood for approximately 8.5 years until I came here.

Q: What is the earliest memory you have of wanting to be a police officer?

The earliest experience I had, the name of officer slips my mind. I grew up in Lansing, and I’ll never forget talking to the Lansing officer that was helping out this elderly lady who was across street from my house. I remember seeing him, he had the really shiny Corfam shoes and uniform. I was just in awe of him. I just remember that was my first impression seeing law enforcement as a child and seeing what he was doing with the elderly lady and helping her out. And he took time to talk to us kids, who were probably asking the dumbest of questions. But I’ll never forget him standing there in his uniform and us asking, “How do you run in those?” But that was my earliest memory, and I was probably 6 or 8 years old.

Later in life, like a lot of people, I had bad experiences with law enforcement. And that actually helped me later on, going, “Well, I think I can do this better than how that officer treated me.” And I try to treat everyone with respect. Unfortunately I’m human, and I have bad days, but I try to treat everyone how I’d want one of my family members treated if they were to come into contact with law enforcement.

Q: As far as growing up, did you have a troublemaker phase where you crossed paths with police?

A: Yeah, that actually makes some of the best cops to be honest. Nothing too crazy, just mischievous, you could say. Curfew, riding your bike out late when you shouldn’t it. Nothing too crazy.

Officer Luke Tambrini performs a traffic stop in along Calumet Avenue in Munster.

Q: During your career and working in various communities here in the Region and over the border into Illinois, what differences did you see?

A: It’s funny that you mention that, because I was just thinking of that yesterday. It is a world difference between Munster and just say Lansing, and then you get into Lynwood where I worked, and then into Highland next door to us and then Hammond. It’s hard to describe, but it’s just different. Policing is going to be different in every jurisdiction. Like where I used to work in Hobart. I did different policing there than I did in Lynwood, and in Munster I do different policing than I did in Lynwood — and a world of difference from Newton County. Different demographics, economic backgrounds and just the social aspect, the environment and communities — they operate differently.

Q: What are some challenges of being an officer working along the state line of Indiana and Illinois?

A: Probably in past two weeks, I can think of two pursuits that led into Illinois. I think I’ve been in three or four since I started with Munster. My first was actually when I was in training. Most of them lead to Illinois, and I think the challenges are a lot of repeat offenders that they book and release in Illinois and the lack of prosecution. Basically they’re going to go out and do it again. Just like a kid who doesn’t have any consequences, they’re going to misbehave. And it’s very unfortunate, but it’s what we have to deal with. And we have our challenges in the region as well.

Q: What makes Northwest Indiana’s bordering communities to Illinois so attractive to criminal activity?

A: The ease of getting onto the expressway and crossing state lines is very accessible. Criminals love that aspect because a lot of agencies aren’t good at networking, and some agencies think, “Hey, we have problem with whatever crime in this area,” but a lot of times it’s not isolated in one area. I’ve arrested people in stolen cars that were stolen from far west or stolen in northern suburbs, that were used in crimes across county lines. And you have to hand it to them, they’re pretty smart like that because if you commit a crime in “X” vehicle and commit the same crime in Willowbrook — Munster and Willowbrook don’t talk every day. But if you go to Highland then Munster then Dyer, you’re more likely to be caught quickly. But if you start crossing jurisdictional lines, county lines, it’s going to slow us down in investigating.

This file photo shows Officer and K-9 Handler Luke Tambrini carrying Dante out of a squad vehicle after the two returned from Chicago on March 9, 2020. 

Q: Does that every create pressure when pursuing a suspect who will likely head for the state line?

A: A little bit. What adds to a lot of the pressure, like in my experience, it’s a stolen vehicle. But when you recover that stolen vehicle, you find elements of burglaries, you find masks, you find bricks, you find sledgehammers, you find weapons. The last stolen vehicle I recovered when I was in Lynwood, it had two handguns in it that were fully automatic and they had modifications to them. One subject was a repeat gun offender and the other one went on to become part of the carjacking that killed the Chicago firefighters who was retired in Chicago. And just knowing I am in little Lynwood at the time and this guy committed a murder there.

I helped Lake County investigate another murder for that subject in Calumet Township, and he actually murdered a Lynwood resident. But it just goes to show this is not just crimes they are committing locally, they’re crossing many jurisdictional lines.

So yeah, there is this pressure. And if you know anything about Munster, you know it’s congested.

Q: Speaking of traffic, now that we are in the area of Calumet Avenue and Ridge Road, can you give us a little bit of tour of all of the buildings damaged by vehicles? Do you think there’s a curse?

A: Munster Gyros, Jodie’s Italian Ice, which is no longer. Munster Gyros happened a while ago before I started, and Jodie’s was this past fall or summer. And there was Butterfingers, where an elderly lady drove into the building. There’s been a lot of them. A lot of contributing factors in my experience is people need to slow down, for starters. People need to be a little more patient.

Q: Around the holidays, what are some focuses you have when it comes to public safety in Munster?

A: We are going to spend a lot of time on Calumet Avenue today. Like you said earlier, it’s shopping season, and it’s also traffic accident season. People get crazy when they’re getting gifts for grandma, I guess. They don’t show very much patience. Also it invites a criminal element because we get a lot of stolen vehicles coming from the expressway and this is one of the main corridors they like to use.

Officer Luke Tambrini performs a traffic stop in along Calumet Avenue in Munster.

Q: With carjackings and stolen vehicles, how do you keep tabs on those in your community?

A: We have license plates readers in town, so we can see stolen vehicles. … We had a hit recently for a vehicle that was wanted for a kidnapping out in Dolton. Thankfully, I looked into it because I saw the hit — they just forgot to take it out of the system. Had that been a true amber alert kind of deal where we needed to track down suspects in a crime, it helps greatly in the investigations into crimes. …

You can set (the license plate readers) to find anything from an expired license plate to suspended drivers, to people with warrants and sex offenders — a whole broad spectrum, and obviously stolen vehicles are a high priority because they lead to a lot more serious crimes.  A lot of stolen vehicles lead to more stolen vehicles. They like to visit gas stations. We had one recently. It was early in the morning and we got a hit. We located the vehicle at the BP at Ridge Road and Calumet. The vehicle was just sitting there. We pull up, and it takes off. We terminate the pursuit because the way they were driving was too dangerous for the public. I watched the surveillance tape to see if anyone got out of the vehicle to identify anyone, and they just sat there for four minutes at a gas pump. No one got out of the vehicle ever. So basically, like how you go to work every day, this persons going to work, they’re shopping for a new vehicle. They’re waiting for someone to go into the gas station and leave their car running to grab that quick pack of smokes or coffee, or put the gas pump on their car and run inside. They leave it running with the keys in it. A lot of times with key FOB’s, you don’t need the keys if it’s running. We try to keep an eye on gas stations; it’s a very common thing. Criminals also like to take vehicles that are warming up in the morning in winter — they call them smokers. They look for vehicles warming up in driveways of people’s houses and they know they’re running and they just take off. By the time you come outside, you have no idea who did it. They disappear pretty quick.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *