Filling the Force: The South Bend Police Force That Is

By: Alana Greenfogel Email
By: Alana Greenfogel Email

Kia and Dimitry Bernard are dripping with sweat.

They just did push-ups, sit-ups, and then, ran a mile and a half.

The married couple wants to know if they have what it takes, physically, to be a police officer.

And the South Bend Police Department wants to know too.

"Come December, we have the potential of losing 17 people," explains Lt. Dave Hecklinski, a recruitment and training officer. "This is why we're doing a lot of testing right now. We're getting prepared for it."

Three years ago, Indiana police officers were offered a retirement option called Deferred Retirement Option Program, or DROP. Officers with at least 20 years of service, who are older than 52, are eligible. They receive a lump some of money to retire.

And three years will be approaching the end of this year.

Recruitment officers explain, they want all eligible applicants to apply. However, they are specifically recruiting minorities.

"People will say, we have no officers over here that represent us," explains Lt. Mattie Taylor. "Where are the officers that represent us?"

Taylor is a recruitment officer, and says, 25 of the 261 officers are women--that's about 10%. And if we talk about race, about 13% of the force consists of minorities. But take a look at the US Census Bureau and 45% of people in South Bend are minorities.

"We are human and we will relate to someone who looks like you," Taylor says.

So how do you try out for the department?

On April 30Th, go to Edison School in South Bend at 8am. You will need a note from your doctor, as well as a letter from the police department. This will be the physical exam part.

Test areas: Vertical jump, 29 sit ups in one minute, push ups, 300 meter run, trigger pull, and 1.5 mile run

Well, after today's "test run" Kia and Dimitry know their strengths and what they need to work on so they can be one of two married couples on the South Bend police force.

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