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South Bend residents skeptical of public meetings set to promote more citizen engagement

NOW: South Bend residents skeptical of public meetings set to promote more citizen engagement

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — On Monday, residents raised concerns about city investment at a public meeting hosted by the South Bend Common Council. 

Inside the Charles Black Center, people from each part of town claimed the neighborhoods are not the city’s priority. According to city data from 2016 to 2019, the following is a breakdown in city investment:

  • LaSalle Park, $4,794,627
  • Near West Side, $1,337,375
  • Kennedy Park, $893,552
  • Lincoln-Bendix Park, $131,666
  • Western Avenue, $131,655
  • Far Northwest, $121,940
  • LaSalle Area, $71,509
  • Far West Side, $45,708

“We have actually failed a segment of our society,” said David Buggs, who lives in South Bend. 

On Monday, residents along with city leaders discussed the threats to the including infrastructure, youth engagement and public safety. 

Earlier in the day, the city announced seven meetings the Board of Public Safety will host to get feedback from people on police policies such as body cameras, use of force, pursuits, and recruitment. The entire schedule is as follows: 

August 8: Kickoff Meeting at Charles Black Community Center, dinner provided. RSVP for meal by emailing rsvp@southbendin.gov.

August 15: Body Camera Policy Review at Charles Black Community Center

August 20: Use of Force Policy Review at Charles Black Community Center

August 27: Vehicle Pursuit Policy Review at Martin Luther King, Jr. Center

September 5: Training Review at Charles Black Community Center

September 12: Recruiting Review at Martin Luther King, Jr. Center

September 19: Recap and Next Steps at Charles Black Community Center, dinner provided

Every meeting in the public series will be from 6:00-8:00 p.m. 

The City said the Board will review what they get back and possibly make changes. However, Joe Wilfing said the City should still implement a citizens review board. 

“Another layer of oversight and unfortunately the city has not heard that voice yet,” Wilfing said. 

At Large Councilwoman Karen White said she is on board for what the city has called “community advisory groups.” 

“I hope we will have a very good conversation,” she said. 

Wilfing and Buggs said the meeting on Monday and the public safety meetings might not be enough to solve what they claim are decades-long problems in the city. Buggs said the past will revisit the city if the infrastructure is not changed. 

“My fear is that it will be discussed in committees but won’t move forward,” said Wilfing. 

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