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South Bend council talks police body cameras and cracks down on synthetic drugs

South Bend, Ind.—

Public safety was a top priority for South Bend’s common council Monday.

Elected officials took steps to get synthetic drugs off the streets, and met with the city’s police chief about ensuring transparency in the department.

Police chief Scott Ruszkowski hopes getting new body cameras will prove to the community the department is working for them.

He says it’s all about changing the community’s perception to reflect reality.

According to Ruszkowski there were 2,600 arrests were made by South Bend police in 2016.

Of those arrests, 72 involved uses of force and just 3 complaints came from those uses of force.

The chief says he’s proud of those numbers.

“I guarantee we’re as good if not better when it comes to what we do,” said Chief Ruszkowski. “We have a very professional and hardworking police department and I think they should be recognized for the job that they do.”

The department is working on regaining trust from the community it’s trusted to protect every day.

“It’s disheartening as a police officer, I can tell you first hand, and I understand how it feels, but if that’s what it takes, then that’s what it takes,” he told the council.

SBPD is committed to ensuring transparency through body cameras.

It’s reviewing technology from several bidders.

And by September, the chosen vendor’s equipment will be phased in.

As for now, it’s talking to other police departments about potential problems with the new tech.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to alleviate most of those when we implement our body cam wear itself policy,” said Chief Ruszkowski.

The chief also made an appearance at the full council meeting Monday in support of a bill to crack down on copycat cannabis.

The council crafted an ordinance that would take civil action against people and stores caught selling synthetic and imitation drugs.

It unanimously put it on the books, ensuring hefty fines from $250 to $2,500 for violators.

“It is a big concern to our community because you’ve had kids in elementary to 70 years that have come through the emergency room affected by this stuff,” said Tim Scott, South Bend Common Council president.

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