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Elkhart mayor tackles crime, new business in State of the City Address

Elkhart’s mayor promised Thursday evening to work to bring more folks downtown and more police officers to protect them.

Mayor Tim Neese held his annual state of the city address and the topics of public safety and economic development were front and center.

This year the mayor changed the format of his speech.

He started the event with a brief summary of happenings in 2016, and then devoted the rest of the address to an intimate Q&A with the community.

“My office is not always in someone’s city hall, it might be in someone’s kitchen, that’s the way I govern, that’s best for me,” said Mayor Neese.

The mayor was out of his office again.

He turned his speech into an impromptu town hall with his citizens.

“I want them to know that my administration is receptive, we get back with people, we return phone calls, we may not always agree but we at least try to find common ground when we can,” said the mayor.

The mayor believes he’s finding common ground on a solution to the city’s crime problem.

While the police department saw 71,000 service calls in 2016—a decrease of about 4,000 from the previous year, there were 16 reported homicides.

“I take crime personal,” said the mayor.

The mayor’s solution is keeping the city’s cops visible in the community.

His administration introduced take home cars for the department and increased foot patrols in problem neighborhoods and downtown.

“Having police officers walking in our downtown and in our neighborhoods, it’s time to get back to that again,” said neighbor Diana Lawson.

The mayor hopes securing these neighborhoods and downtown will bring back traffic.

The city saw glimpses of revitalization downtown when the city’s first comic con brought in nearly 10,000 visitors.

And business owners hope it’ll be a trend.

“They’re working a bunch of activities to come back downtown with the bike night, every month they got the art walk,” said Steve Dickson, owner of Kahan’s Americana.

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