So far, there have been no homicides in Elkhart thanks to new efforts

NOW: So far, there have been no homicides in Elkhart thanks to new efforts

We’re nearly halfway through 2017 and so far this year, the city of Elkhart hasn’t seen a single homicide.

By the numbers, last year there were 16 violent deaths. This year, the Elkhart Police Department says they’re trying some new things.

Mayor Tim Neese says thanks to new Elkhart PD efforts this city is seeing a decrease in violent deaths and officers are arresting more criminals, taking them off our streets.

We attend meetings; we talk about the importance of keeping in the neighborhood association in existence. We also now have cameras in areas that we didn’t have that have been considered as high crime,” says Mayor Neese.

Those cameras, according to Sergeant Chris Snyder with the Elkhart Police, are installed in certain neighborhoods, one example being Washington Gardens.

Again it’s not going to prevent crime, but when you know it’s there you’re less likely to go there to commit a crime,” says Sgt. Snyder. “There’s no secret that where drugs are you’re going to find higher crime.”

Mayor Neese says a big factor is that the police officers have made themselves more visible in communities. “Take home police cars and if that officer lives within the confines of the city they can use that car for their personal use. We have more police presence.”

And that’s something Sgt. Snyder says has helped build a relationship between officers and the community. “We’re getting people to call in and give us information they tell us who they are and they’re able to provide information so there’s not as much concern with the community.”

Henry Peoples has been living on Elkhart’s south side for 13 years and says recently he’s felt safer.

There’s not a lot of violence. It’s calmer now. Less noise, the community is a bit quieter. They seem to be patrolling pretty good,” says Peoples.

Part of these new efforts is starting an anti-crime unit within the police department. “Those individual officers will focus among other things on illegal drug activity as well as gangs,” says Mayor Neese.

But that won’t be in effect until the vacancies at the Elkhart Police Department are filled. “Right now we have 12 empty spots,” says Sgt. Snyder. “We just don’t have the man power to do it right now, we’re using other resources.”

“Once we can get our vacancies filled then we will take five existing officers and they will make up the anti-crime unit,” adds Neese.

Mayor Neese tells ABC57 he knows things can change in a matter of seconds, but he is proud of where the city stands today.

“I am not overly optimistic, but I’m encouraged on what we’re doing and I’m more encouraged that we have more to do,” says the mayor.

Mayor Neese tells ABC57 the next plan is to implement emergency poles throughout the city.  

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