South Bend, Ind. Some South Bend residents say their neighborhood will be destroyed if they don’t get help from the city – and soon.
People living in the LaSalle Park area met with the common council’s health and public safety committee, as well as South Bend Police Chief Ron Teachman, Tuesday night.
Many spoke out about the problems plaguing their neighborhoods – everything from vacant homes to gun violence. And, safety was their number one concern; some residents are afraid to leave their homes.
“They’re just afraid to come out,” said LaSalle Park Neighborhood Association President Gail Brodie. “And, I don’t think anybody should have to live like that.”
Council members listened to residents’ concerns and vowed to do something about the problems.
“We will continue to have conversations, but move from conversations to action,” said Councilwoman Karen White.
And, some of that action is already underway.
Teachman says to help address violence in the city, he wants the department to invest in technology called ShotSpotter. The program can help police pinpoint exactly where gunshots go off.
“They set up a series of acoustic sensors in neighborhoods where we've had a history of gunshots,” Teachman said. “So we can respond more quickly and can have a safer approach because you know exactly where the shots are coming from.”
Teachman will give a presentation to South Bend’s Board of Works Thursday about ShotSpotter. He says if the technology is approved, the city will only be able to outfit a couple square miles with the sensors because of cost.
In addition, the city council recently passed ordinances that could help curb crime in the area. One establishes penalties for properties deemed chronic nuisances and the other requires all mopeds in South Bend to be registered.
But, residents say what they want is a larger police presence in LaSalle Park. And, they want it before someone else gets killed.
“I’m not very satisfied,” Brodie said. “The thing I want to see is success. I want to see someone doing something, not telling me what the plans are in the future. That’s all we ever hear. We need to see it done now.”
Residents were also concerned about issues with code enforcement. They say overgrown weeds and trees from the properties are taking over their yards and causing safety concerns. Code enforcement is addressing some of those issues in the coming weeks. But, there are only eight inspectors on staff.
LaSalle Park residents say because of the large number of code violations in their neighborhood alone, many don't support Mayor Pete Buttigieg's plan to merge code enforcement and the building department next year.
Buttigieg says the change would help cut costs by making the departments more efficient, meaning the loss of some jobs.
"There's not enough staff in code, the police department and other areas," Brodie said. "To me, that doesn't make sense."