Pizza and popsicles: South Bend Police Department aims to continue community outreach
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — On a summer day at Southeast Park in South Bend, detectives with the South Bend Police Department were on patrol - pizza and popsicle patrol.
It’s a new department program focusing on breaking barriers between the community and police. On Thursday, a little more than 15 people came out and many were children.
“When we talked to children to get them to grow up and learn that the police are not scary,” said Ken Garcia, a department spokesperson. “They can come talk to us that they can interact with us.”
ABC 57 News spoke to children in the neighborhood near the park and they said they see squad cars patrolling the streets often. However, they said they want to actually meet the officers.
“Say like something happens when we’re home alone,” said Shenae Brown. “We’d know who to call.”
Pizza and popsicle patrol is among a list of programs the department started to emphasize relationship policing. Garcia said the department gauges if a program works by how many people show up, and later, cooperation from the neighborhood when crime occurs.
However, after two deadly shootings near popular bars in the city and pleas from law enforcement for the community’s help in solving the case, the department admits there are problems.
“They don’t want to be involved or they just don’t want to talk,” said Garcia.
An officer sat down to talk with a man named Solal Moosun, who said he is skeptical of the department’s methods.
“You know that in order to make the real changes you really say that you want to make of course an event like this isn’t going to help,” Moonsun said.
The department is set to host National Night Out Against Crime on Tuesday, August 6 at the police station on Sample Street.
Garcia said the department’s work will never be done. However, he said the goal is 100 percent cooperation between the police department and the community it serves.
“At the end of the day it will take a partnership between police and community to make sure it’s safe for everybody,” said Garcia.