South Bend working on real-time crime center and increased surveillance to crack down on gun violence

Updated: Jun. 23, 2022 at 6:15 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - The City of South Bend is looking to address violent crime in the community by creating a real-time crime center at the South Bend Police Department.

Inspired by other cities like Detroit’s “Project Green Light”, the plan is to increase surveillance technology at public spaces and businesses in South Bend that will be fed to the police department’s crime center so officers can track and respond to crime in real-time.

There are two parts to making this happen. The first is getting more surveillance cameras to businesses and public spaces where crime seems to be more frequent. The second is creating the actual center where this footage can be stored and reviewed.

Both phases are already gaining momentum.

The potential real-time crime center might not look like much, but by the end of 2022, this room will house at least the pilot system that will be used by officers in this room.

“We would have individuals working directly out of that room, so if something occurred, not only would individuals in that room be able to pull up footage and work with officers on an investigation looking for suspects, but officers would also be able to pull up those feeds as well,” said South Bend Police Assistant Chief Dan Skibins.

The City of South Bend already uses trail cameras in a number of its parks for surveillance, but police don’t have direct access to this footage.

The police plan to install their own cameras in high crime areas with direct live feeds to the crime center so police can respond to crime as it happens and review past footage for investigations.

Police also plan to install cameras at businesses that see more violent crime--namely gas stations.

“This is for serious offenses. The reason we’re doing this is gun violence--to reduce that. We’re trying to target hotspot areas where businesses are that have seen gun violence, from a gas station to a liquor store, you name it,” Skibins said.

South Bend Mayor James Mueller says their partnerships with businesses to install surveillance cameras will be just as valuable as the cameras in public spaces. They’re even working on plans to help their partners cover any costs that come with the cameras.

“We want our businesses to buy in and we will roll out some incentive programs to get them on board,” Meuller said.

Mueller says they’re building this strategy for public safety while also being mindful of peoples’ privacy.

“Privacy is of utmost importance. The same rules that apply to an officer of the law will apply to how we utilize these surveillance systems,” he said.

In hopes of not only catching criminals in the act but also preventing crime in the first place.

Mayor Mueller says they expect to unveil the new real-time crime center, solidify these partnerships with businesses, and roll out more surveillance cameras to be used in a pilot program by the end of this year.

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