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City of South Bend set to 'home-grow' next generation of police officers

NOW: City of South Bend set to ’home-grow’ next generation of police officers

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The City of South Bend is taking steps to fix the relationship between police officers and the community they serve with an initiative called the ‘Homegrown Project.’

According to the Diversity and Inclusion Officer Christina Brooks, the project will allow people in the community to nominate individuals from their communities to become law enforcement officers with the South Bend Police Department. City administration laid out this initiative and others on Monday during Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s update to the South Bend Common Council. 

“We all feel like this is such an important process for us to go through as a city,” she said. “We want to make sure that everybody is doing what they can to make sure that we solve this problem in South Bend.”

Currently, nearly 20 percent of people applying for the police force are Black, according to SBPD data. Nine percent are Hispanic and 65 percent are White. 

In the Mayor’s update, the project is listed under ‘new steps include bridging gap in schools partnership.’ Brooks said the project will target diversity on the police force and find applicants that are embedded in the community. 

“There has to be trust,” Brooks said. “We have to do a lot more and we have to hold each other accountable.”

ABC 57 News held an informal poll with teens at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center on Linden Avenue and La Casa de Amistad on Meade Street. When asked if they were nominated, could they see themselves on the police department, two out of eight raised their hands for ‘yes.’ 

Others like Kyrin McClatchey, a John Adams High School junior, said they know people they could nominate. McClatchey said his nominee is someone that is respectful of others. 

“They know everything that’s going on,” he said. “They kind of want to make a change no matter how small it is.”

However, Lauraine Davidson, a graduate of Washington High School, said law enforcement is not her area of expertise and her trust in the judicial system has declined dramatically. 

“I wouldn’t see myself aligning with something I don’t believe in,” she said. 

The department declined an interview about the program. But a spokesperson wrote in an e-mail that the department is currently accepting applications for the next hiring process. 

The application deadline is August 12. 

By the numbers, there are 242 sworn SBPD officers - 88 percent are White, 5.4 percent are Black, and 4.9 percent are Hispanic. 

The rollout of the program will come after controversial police-involved shooting from June 16. Many in the community have claimed the incident broke the trust between people and the police department. 

“It’s a good step,” Davidson said. “I think the people that are trying but there definitely needs to be something else.”

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SteveWestlake 126 days ago
This is just the problem! PeteY and his bunch believe this is a game! Much like a sports league. It IS NOT! It's the last line of defense for the law abiding citizens. It's a calling for a cop! Cops want to do their job. Administrations always think they have a better idea. Very seldom they do. The fact remains that an applicant can not have at the very least an arrest history. And never a felony record. The applicant must be able to be a self starter! Be able to make split second decisions. Have good moral standards. Percentages are the least of the problems. Laws are made for everyone to obey. Laws are NOT made for differing races to obey when they please. The last job I had was working for a local school system. On Saturday and Sundays I did security on 4 schools and an admin building! I never did the checks at standard times. That sets a pattern for bad guys to follow. So especially the night checks might have taken place anytime after 9PM-1AM. I was stopped many times by local and county police. I always pulled over cautiously. Hands on the steering wheel and never made a move without clearing that move with the officer. I only had 1 incident with an officer. That was when he decided he did not have enough cause to ticket but he thought he would present me with a pamphlet on careful driving. I thanked him. And I advised him that I had operated emergency vehicles with lights and sirens 1000s of times, and NEVER put a scratch on a vehicle. Then I inquired whether we were done and asked to leave.
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