Neighborhood gatherings, or block parties, are nothing unusual. But one that took place Sunday in South Bend was more than just a way for neighbors to get together. The organizer believes it is a way to unite neighbors to keep their community safe.
And it also marked a first for South Bound Police.
Jen Tindell has been a neighborhood watch captain on South Bend’s northwest side for about four years. When she first moved to N. College St., she was the victim of three burglaries.
That is when she started a neighborhood watch.
“It started with just a couple who happen to be here today,” said Tindell. “They really started helping, talking to other neighbors. But we still found it difficult to get people involved in calling police when there was an issue or telling other neighbors when there (were) things happening in the neighborhood.”
Then last year, Tindell had an idea to get more people involved.
“So last year, we had a neighborhood picnic and invited everyone in the neighborhood,” she said. “Apparently the carrot method didn’t work, but watermelon and fried chicken works great.”
About 40 people turned out last year, shocking even the most skeptical neighbors.
“So last year, when Jen organized the picnic, it was wonderful because all these houses that have new people in them, now we know each other and we speak to each other and we email each other,” said longtime College St. resident Jane Lorton. “So it’s been a wonderful environment because I think we all feel safer because of it.”
On Sunday, the second neighborhood party had a twist. It included a first for the neighborhood and the South Bend Police Department.
Police kicked off the party with a “Roving Roll Call.”
“The really neat thing about it is the neighbors get to hear, they get to participate, they get to ask questions,” said Capt. Scott Ruszkowski. “The officers, in a non-dynamic situation, the neighbors in a non-dynamic situation, get to sit or stand and talk over a cold beverage, over a fruit snack, whatever the case may be and talk about problems they may have.
So, having the cops crash a party was, in this case, a good thing.
Capt. Ruszkowski says that while Sundays Roving Roll Call on N. College was the first in a South Bend neighborhood, it certainly will not be the last.
He expects more neighborhood watch groups to contact the department so they can hold their own roll call and get better acquainted with the men and women in blue who protect them.
If you have a neighborhood watch success story, send me an email and tell me about it.