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City council nixes plans for Washington Gardens police substation

The Elkhart City Council says they will not approve an ordinance to fund a police substation in Washington Gardens.

In March, the Elkhart City Police Department proposed the funding ordinance to the council hoping to create a substation in Washington Gardens.  At that time, the council sent the ordinance to the finance committee.

The plan asks for $26,500 to furnish and secure an apartment the housing authority has leased to the department for free. While they already have access to use apartment, it isn’t fully operational.

The chairperson of the committee, David Henke, says the ordinance will die in committee. At Monday’s city council meeting, Henke requested the police department withdraw the funding ordinance.

“Asking for us, at city expense, we already subsidize with our tax dollars, this would be an additional expenditure and it’s unfair to our tax payers,” says Henke.

After an increase in crime in the area, Washington Gardens neighbors welcomed the idea that officers would be working out the apartments.

Belinda Davidson and her children have lived in the apartment for around two years. Davidson says her young son had to see a therapist after hearing a shooting near their home last summer.

“It’s a really scary reality for everyone that lives around here. It terrified him. He started having nightmares, he didn’t want to be at home, he started crying all the time. He’s very comforted knowing that police officers are the ones who keep you safe and it helps him,” says Davidson.

Sgt. Chris Snyder says an increased police presence in a community with high crime could make a big difference in solving cases.

“It gives our officers and opportunity to meet with people that’s not at the station so it’s not as hectic for them,” says Sgt. Snyder.

The substation would have also helped free up some space at the police station on Waterfall Drive, which Sgt. Snyder says is becoming more and more crammed.

“Right now we’re just out of room. Our officers and civilians are working out of office space that used to be closets,” says Sgt. Snyder.

The council says they plan on investing in a much bigger solution for the department.

“We’re going to be building a department somewhere the question is where is that building going to be and what the cost is going to be,” says City Council President Brian Dickerson.

The city has employed a company to conduct a study to determine where the department should go. Dickerson says they are looking into a location near Washington Gardens.

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