Third Anniversary for "Operation Tattoo Zap"
Washington, D.C. – Saturday, November 17, 2001, marks the third anniversary of “Operation Tattoo Zap,” the highly successful program Congressman Pete Visclosky initiated in 1998 to remove gang tattoos of former members.
The program gives former gang bangers the chance to have free laser tattoo removal surgery. This service helps ex-gangsters go straight by opening the door to job and educational opportunities they might not have had with their tattoos. That means more chances for legitimate employment, and fewer former gangsters returning to crime.
“Everyone deserves a second chance to correct their mistakes,” Visclosky said. “This program helps former gang members break their ties with the past and get on with their lives. ‘Operation Tattoo Zap’ gives these individuals real opportunities for legitimate work, and that means less crime in our neighborhoods.”
This privately funded program combines the efforts of plastic surgeon Dr. Mike Malczewski, the Lake County Medical Society, the Lake County High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), the Indiana National Guard and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. Since its inception, “Operation Tattoo Zap” has treated 201 applicants at least once and removed 842 tattoos. There have been 311 total applicants, with 283 cleared for treatment.
“This program shows that the public and private sectors can work together to accomplish something good for our community,” Visclosky said. “I will continue to support this worthwhile program that has improved the quality of life for so many Northwest Indiana residents.”
Visclosky has a strong crimefighting record in Congress. In addition to “Operation Tattoo Zap,” he has brought other public safety programs to Northwest Indiana. Since 1997, he has secured $18 million in federal funding for Northwest Indiana’s HIDTA. This funding has resulted in the seizure of more than 10,885 kilograms of marijuana; 761 kilograms of cocaine; 1.82 kilograms of heroin; and 6.64 kilograms of methamphetamine. In addition, HIDTA personnel have arrested 1,082 suspects, while seizing more than 529 weapons and $3.7 million in cash and property during that time. Visclosky also has secured more than $14 million since 1994 to put 227 new police officers on the street in Northwest Indiana.
Just this week, Visclosky secured an Automated Fingerprint Identification System, to be shared by several Northwest Indiana police departments. This technology immediately uploads fingerprints so several Northwest Indiana law-enforcement officers can discover a criminal’s entire list of aliases and all records under those names. Also this week, Visclosky secured in-car video cameras for the Griffith Police Department, to give officers a chance to spend less time in lengthy court hearings and more time protecting lives and property.
“Keeping our communities safe is one of my top priorities in Congress,” Visclosky said. “I will continue to work hard to bring the best crimefighting tools to Northwest Indiana.”