South Bend mayoral candidates address public safety reform

NOW: South Bend mayoral candidates address public safety reform

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - In light of dozens of shootings and two mass shootings this year in South Bend, public safety reform is on the minds of many, especially less than a month away from the mayoral election.

On Tuesday both candidates, Republican Sean Haas and Democrat James Mueller held press conferences to share their own proposals to reduce crime in the city.

Both candidates know there is a problem in our city with crime. Police data shows there have been 674 aggravated assaults and 10 homicides in 2019 alone.

With the mayoral election fast approaching, candidates are looking to reform public safety policies. Recruiting and retaining a diverse police workforce and improving the relationship between the community and the police department was one of the big proposals both candidates say is needed.

“I am proposing increased civilian oversight and more community policing through dedicated officers who can coordinate between neighborhood associations and proactive policing to create a welcoming portal between our minority communities and the mayor’s office,” Sean Haas, (R) South Bend mayoral candidate said.

“Creating neighborhood officers to respond to lower priority calls for service and engagement of key communities,” James Mueller, (D) South Bend mayoral candidate said.

The gap between the community and officials is growing and both candidates addressed it Haas called out Mueller for blaming problems on quote “systemic racism.”

“My opponent is hiding behind his terminology to excuse his lack of results as a member of the current administration and their service to our minority communities,” Haas said.

“The gap is wider than we’d like. We have a lot of work to do to bring officers and the community together. Including what came out in the debate is just the understanding of the concept of systemic racism,” Mueller said.

Harvey Mills with the South Bend Fraternal Order of Police said there is a lack of communication between the department and the mayor’s office

“The mayor and the police department need to have a direct line of communication. The officers need to have a direct line to the community,” Mills said.

That’s one reason why the FOP unanimously voted to endorse Haas in the election.

“Mueller hasn’t really reached out to us as an FOP. Where Haas has been engaged with multiple officers multiple times,” he said.

Some other aspects of Mueller’s safety plan are to expand the Group Violence Intervention program – adding more community leaders and mentors as well as a dedicated GVI coordinator.

To deter crime before it starts, he plans to create a pipeline for kids to reach success through quality pre-k and summer youth employment programs.

Haas talked about accountability for those in leadership positions and better leadership for all of South Bend.

Early and absentee voting started today in Indiana. Voters can cast their ballots ahead of November’s municipal election or wait until election day on November 5th.

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