South Bend Police and Mayor Mueller address violent crime
SOUTH BEND, Ind.,--The South Bend Police Department met with media and city officials to discuss its community strategies for public safety and its fight against gun violence. Despite a recent uptick in gun violence nationwide, in South Bend, gun violence has actually gone down when compared to this time last year.
As of May 25, 2022, there were nearly 100 less gun violence incidents than this time in 2021. The number of criminally assaulted shooting victims also decreasing from 46 to 43.
Most of these shootings were non-fatal or related to gang violence.
However, these numbers could change once Hoosiers are able to carry handguns without a permit beginning July 2022, a law that’s expected to make officers’ jobs more difficult and possibly even contribute to an uptick in violence. Law enforcement and city officials alike say they’re concerned that crime statistics could start trending in the wrong direction.
Chief Scott Ruszkowski expressed his concerns with the state legislation.
“People who should not have them is the reason why we’re doing this because the people who should not have them are typically the ones that are going out hurting other people who aren’t bothering anybody in many cases,” said Rusckowski.
Mayor Mueller also shared his frustrations.
“We all know that a lot of violence is driven by people, we understand that,” said Mueller. “We’ve got to address social and people issues, but to take the gun side of the equation completely off the table…We’ve got to get to a place where common sense can still prevail.”
At the meeting, officials shared that technology has helped officers better respond to crime and record statistics. The department is working on improving public safety by utilizing technology, and while the tech is still new at the department, officers are already seeing improvements.
Technology aids Mayor Mueller’s vision of a real-time shared during the 2022 State of the City Address
“The idea here is to utilize technology and capitalize on building relationships with businesses and residents…to be able to have the information to have a real-time crime center which means that we have data coming in at real time and we can have insight on crime unfolding in South Bend,” said Mueller.
Through unbiased analytic software, SBPD is able to compare crime trends from the past three years. The software, Shot Spotter Connect, collects data from case reports, statements and evidence and monitors officer responsiveness and accountability through GPS. After a year of data collection in October, SBPD can start comparing trends.
SBPD is also using technology to develop possible leads in criminal cases. With another new software Flock LPR, officers can use cameras near major roads to help identify vehicles. Something that Chief Dan Skibins said has already helped solve cases.
“Homicide investigations as you see, seven there,” said Skibins. “There are two that I know of through working with the detective bureau that if we did not have Flock cameras, we would not have been able to present and gain charges from the prosecutor’s office.”