Local law enforcement agencies announce plan to continue Special Victims Unit

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind.—Multiple law enforcement agencies on Tuesday announced a tentative agreement to modify and continue the St. Joseph County Special Victims Unit.

The St. Joseph County Police Department, Mishawaka Police Department, South Bend Police Department and the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office are the interlocal partners that make up the county’s Special Victims Unit.

The modification of the interlocal agreement calls for the multi-jurisdictional Special Victims Unit to continue investigating and prosecuting child physical and sexual abuse, child neglect and exploitation, and adult sexual crimes.

In the modification, the individual jurisdictions will investigate matters involving domestic violence.

The Mishawaka Police Department and St. Joseph County Police Department will each provide one officer to the unit.

The South Bend Police Department will provide two sworn officers to the unit as well as funding for three additional positions within the unit.

The prosecutor’s office will continue providing deputy prosecuting attorneys and support staff for the unit as well as the Commander of the Investigative Unit.

To assist with ongoing staffing shortages at the South Bend Police Department, the new agreement adjusts the staffing requirement for the partner agencies. 

On Monday evening, the Mishawaka Common Council approved the agreement. The St. Joseph County Council and the South Bend Common Council will consider the new agreement during upcoming meetings.

“I am happy to announce this continuance of the multijurisdictional SVU framework for these most serious of crimes. The County Police Department has been preparing and is ready and take on investigation of domestic violence incidents that will now fall outside SVU scope. Additionally, the creation of our domestic violence response services team earlier this year gives County Police the ability to get services and support assistance to domestic violence victims within 48 hours, if not immediately,” Sheriff Bill Redman said in a press release.

“Keeping the Special Victims Unit to investigate adult sexual crimes and crimes against children allows officers from the county’s largest law enforcement agencies to collaborate in the most effective fashion, increasing the likelihood of victims getting justice. I am pleased that the SVU will continue its work to the benefit of residents throughout St. Joseph County,” said Prosecutor Ken Cotter in a press release.

“We are pleased and confident with this new agreement that we will be able to continue to offer the highest level of professional investigations and attention to these most serious crimes against victims,” Mishawaka Police Chief Ken Witkowski said in a press release. “We will continue to collaborate with joint jurisdictional investigations. We want to assure the community that the seriousness of these crimes will get the utmost priority.”

“Not only do these types of crimes have a significant physical and psychological victim impact, but are very unsettling to our community as a whole,” South Bend Chief of Police Scott Ruszkowski said in a press release. “Our commitment to investigating and solving these sensitive crimes remains as strong as ever. Our department’s contributions will undoubtedly help provide victim/survivor justice, and ideally prevent future incidents.”

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