SOUTH BEND, Ind. - People living on South Bend's west side are not only tired of all the high crime in their neighborhood, they're tired of waiting for law enforcement to fix it. Wednesday night, members of the community met to talk about helping themselves. It's the second neighborhood meeting this month.
Neighbors met at The Church of the Holy Trinity Episcopal in South Bend Wednesday night for the second time in two weeks. Neighbors say the shootings, stabbings and robberies have to stop. Although the crimes are obvious, the solutions are not.
Gloria Norris has lived in South Bend for over 30 years and says she remembers when it was different on the West Side, "It was one of the most beautiful sides of town in the South Bend area, but now it's just deteriorated and it's nothing but crime; crime and gangs."
Gloria says she wants to see her neighborhood get back to what it used to be, which is why she has decided to come to these neighborhood meetings.
However, she says tonight's meeting had a different feel than last week's meeting. "I think they did more in the last two meetings than they have in the last 10 years," says Norris.
In stark contrast to the several city officials that attended the meeting last Wednesday, at this week's meeting only one city official was in attendance.
There was no longer frustration, instead there was only brainstorming, as neighbors identified the biggest problems in their community.
The group formed a list naming the good and the bad. Everything from unsupervised kids, a lack of police presence, shootings and burglaries, neighbors rattled off all the major problems plaguing their community.
It was not until the end of the meeting that neighbors' ears perked up, when
Aaron Durham says presence is the solution.
"We need more officers out here and if there are not enough officers I understand that. I understand budget cuts, so let's help them. Let's put a nice neighborhood watch program that actually works, with a presence, out there to assist the police," says Durham.
Durham says his private security company, N.S.A. Security, could be a solution. He already offers security to other places within the community like The Olive Street Convenience Store after a boy was recently shot and killed in the parking lot.
Neighbors like Gloria say they see the good the armed security is doing and say they are willing to try anything now, even if having safety means paying money out of their own pockets.
"I am a working woman, I will do it myself if I have to, but I think I am going to just approach my neighbors and see what we can come up with," says Norris.
Gloria says she plans on taking this offer to her neighbors. In the meantime, she still plans on attending the next two meetings because she know there is still much more to be done.