Elkhart Police unable to statistically prove Project 365 was successful

Project 365 in Elkhart wrapped up at the end of July, but statistics on the difference in crime rates within the neighborhood were never released.

ABC 57 did some digging, searching for answers on whether the project was successful in Elkhart’s Central West Side, on Marrion and Harrison Streets, between Oakland Avenue and Third Street. While police said the project lowered crime, residents told us the neighborhood may look cleaner, but crime is still as big of a problem as ever.
“It’s clean, but everything that’s been happening is the same,” said Dishea Woods.
 She said gangs, drugs, and graffiti are problems she still associates with the neighborhood.  “It’s not safe to be around here,” she said.
But the former Neighborhood Association President, Tonda Hines, said the area is safe and there is less crime because of Project 365.
“Has it gone down? Absolutely. Why do I feel that? Just because the types of behaviors that we would see in the neighborhood, you don’t see that as much,” Hines said.
Hines said she does not need statistics to prove the program was successful.
“For me, living in that neighborhood and seeing the visibility of people interacting more, and people just saying that they feel safer, to me, that goes a long way as opposed to numbers,” she said.
Police told ABC 57 they could not generate trend reports because of computer glitches.
Lt. Laura Koch said it is also hard to keep track of whether the arrests and citations happened within the project’s borders.
“An incident may occur, let’s say, a traffic citation, in this area. But by the time we get the subject stopped, they may be out of the boundaries that we had set for project 365,” Koch said.
Koch further justified the project’s success by adding that officers have received positive feedback.
“What really needs to be known, is that these people tell us that they feel safe. That they feel that they can take their kids out and play in the front yard,” Koch said.
Hines said she’s noticed that same difference.
“You see people out in the neighborhood more. There again, walking the dogs, kids are outside playing, It gets darker later and they’re out there playing till it’s dark as opposed to when the street lights come on,” she said.
But Charles Weaver told ABC 57 he’s been to every meeting, and he feels otherwise.
“We’ve had four different shootings in the last year. People breaking in and out of houses; That has picked up. The project has not worked,” Weaver said.
Weaver said he does not need a statistical report because he’s positive the report would be negative.
“They can’t say crime went down. They may have made more arrests, but there is still the same amount of crime going on here,” he said.
Others, like Cindy Eaton, told ABC 57 that as city taxpayers, the numbers are imperative.
“You know, why are there no statistics? We would like to know that the crime rate is either up or down,” Eaton said.
Koch said for phase two of Project 365, officers will be able to indicate whether the crime happened within the boundaries.
The location for phase two has not been announced.

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