Police arrest drunks in downtown South Bend

By: Ryan Famuliner Email
By: Ryan Famuliner Email

South Bend Police say it became a danger to the public, and something had to be done.

So, officers swept the downtown area Tuesday targeting people who were, "beyond intoxicated."

After receiving complaints from businesses and citizens alike, police arrested nine people Tuesday in the sweep from about noon to 4:00 p.m.

They say many of those arrested must have started drinking earlier Tuesday morning, and either passed out or stumbled their way into handcuffs.

The trash piles looks like the residue from a wild weekend party, but it's from a mid-week, mid-day stupor, in the middle of South Bend.

“Rather than finding some sort of refuge to take a nap or a place for people to do their partying; they choose got do it, you know, right out in the open,” said Captain Phil Trent with the South Bend Police Department.

Police instigated the sweep Tuesday afternoon in an area of downtown where they'd had the most complaints of drunks panhandling… or worse.

“Nobody wants to encounter someone urinating in public two feet away from you when you’re trying to walk the East Race,” Trent said.

Police say it's not just a nuisance.

They say those they’re targeting are so drunk; it's very dangerous for them to be near the river, where many sleep it off on benches.

For the general public, it's also dangerous for them to be stumbling near traffic. Many were arrested near the Bronson Street railroad bridges.

Nearby businesses are applauding the sweep.

“It needs to be done and I'm glad they're doing their job,” said Brad Emberton, the owner of the Midas on Michigan Ave.

Across the street, Expert Tire says they called in some of the complaints.

Meanwhile, Midas says they've only had a few problems so far, mainly incidental things you’d expect for a business downtown, but he’s glad police are monitoring the situation.

“I’m glad they're keeping their eyes out for potential problems that could become a larger problem in the future,” Emberton said.

Police say that is the goal.

“Just a deterrence; that it’s not going to be tolerated. It’s not going to be a free for all, you know. There's going to be something to pay for going downtown and just using it as a drunken rallying spot,” Trent said.

Two of the 9 people arrested had outstanding warrants for public intoxication charges.

Police say ultimately that's what lies ahead for the others too if they don't change their behavior.

Police plan to continue to arrest people who are drunk in public, and after multiple arrests that could mean jail time.

“You know all we can do is address the problem on an individual basis. If someone does this repetitiously, then I suppose they’re going to be repetitiously arrested,” Trent said.

The sweep was paid for partially with grant money. Police say they will definitely keep their eyes on problem areas with the regular patrols in the future.

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