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South Bend Police Athletic League February 8, 2012

Posted by southbendpolice in Community Announcements, Crime Prevention, Feature Stories.
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The South Bend Police Athletic League, Inc. was founded through the vision of Chief Darryl Boykins. It is a youth crime prevention program that utilizes educational, athletic and recreational activities to create trust and understanding between police officers and youth. It is based on the conviction that young people, if they are reached early enough, can develop strong positive attitudes towards police officers in their journey through life toward the goal of maturity and good citizenship. The South Bend PAL program brings youth under the supervision and positive influence of SBPD Officers and expands public awareness about the role of a police officer and the reinforcement of the responsible values and attitudes instilled in young people by their parents.

The South Bend Police Athletic League has received acknowledgement for it’s innovative programs and work with youth through a publication in the Journal of Research in Character Education,” Champions for Children: Reaching Out to Urban Youth Through Sports”, Author: Power, F ClarkDate published: July 1, 2010.

Donations to the South Bend Police Athletic League, Inc. can be made by contacting Lt. Christopher Voros at 574-235-7770.


Not just “because we can” July 20, 2010

Posted by southbendpolice in Feature Stories.
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I overheard a woman talking the other day to another male at a restaurant while I was off duty and the part that perked my ear up was “and this COP was driving about 80 and flew by me with no siren or nothing”.. She assumed that the cop must have been driving that way for no reason, or ‘because they (we) can’.

There is a perception amongst the civilian public that just because police officers are driving ‘fast’ without our lights and or sirens in emergency mode operation that we are driving that way because we want to. Truth is, driving that way is dangerous to everyone, us included, and for the most part, we are not just driving that way because I have nothing better to do when working…. or off duty.

The calls that police officers get are dynamic, and many times officers respond with a minimum of information. Most often police are responding to back one another up. Officers make dozens of traffic stops in a day in this city, and while most stops do not require us to back one another up by running lights and siren, it is critical that we are able to arrive quickly and safely. As an example, rpr. Randy Vetter of the Texas DPS was murdered on a traffic stop August 7th 2000 after stopping a man for a seatbelt violation.. The dash cam video is on the internet. If you take the time to watch, from the time of stop until the man brandishes and fires shots with his rifle is TWELVE seconds.

Other times, we are responding to burglar alarms at residences, or businesses. If someone was breaking into your home do you want the police to arrive in 2 minutes or in 10? Telegraphing “police are coming” from several blocks away with sirens blaring and lights blazing can have a detrimental effect to the criminal deciding to stay inside and be captured on the scene.

There are many many more situations that I can go on about, but the point is that if people see officers driving fast, please consider the circumstances. When someone calls 911 and states that someone is physically hurting or trying to kill them (usually in a very frantic manner), those calls have to be taken very seriously. Admittedly, and unfortunately, many times it is not as bad as what the caller had stated initially in the phone call to 911, but on the other hand sometimes it is.

So help arriving 30 seconds to a minute earlier could mean the difference between life and death. Every second counts when it comes to emergencies whether it be medical or criminal.

As a further P.S. to the post, please remember to yield the right of way to police/fire/EMS vehicles any time you see lights or hear sirens. It’s the law. Do so by immediately pulling over to the right side of the curb as possible. including one way streets.

South Bend Police seize drugs, weapons in home May 12, 2010

Posted by southbendpolice in Community Announcements, Feature Stories, In The News.
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By MARY KATE MALONE Tribune Staff Writer

This story was originally posted at 9:56 p.m. May 11, 2010

South Bend Police Narcotics officers raided a house on Monday May 10th in the 1100 block of North O’Brien street. Inside the house, police found approximately 2,400 Ecstasy pills, 10 pounds of marijuana and loaded weapons, including three pistols and a Mini 30 semi-automatic rifle, police said.

Lt. David Ryans said the bust was among the 10 largest he has made in 10 years with the St. Joseph County’s drug unit, Metro Special Operations Section, which made the drug seizure.

Police were initially called to the house for a fight between a 25-year-old man and a woman.
Officers arrested the man, who lived at the house, on suspicion of domestic battery. Police then noticed marijuana in plain view.

Narcotics officers searched the house after obtaining a search warrant, leading them to the drugs and guns.

The Ecstasy had a street value of at least $25,000, Ryans said.

“Just by the amount of marijuana and Ecstasy, the weapons in the house were, I believe, meant to protect those drugs.”

Children may have lived in the house, Ryans said. Investigators found children’s clothes and diapers during their search.

No charges have been filed in connection with the drug bust, but the case was forwarded to the St. Joseph County prosecutor’s office, police said.

“We took some dangerous weapons and drugs off the street,” Ryans said. “If we can get them off the street, that’s what we’re working for.”

“Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine.” April 12, 2010

Posted by southbendpolice in Community Announcements, Feature Stories.
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You may have heard or seen the commercials recently about speeding on local media outlets. The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute spring traffic safety campaign is highlighting attention to a common problem everywhere regarding traffic safety.

According to the latest statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 13,000 lives are lost in speeding-related traffic crashes nationwide. A crash is considered “speed-related” when a driver is charged with a speeding-related offense, or if the responding officer indicates the driver was driving too fast for the road conditions or exceeded the posted speed limit.

Speed was a contributing factor in 29 percent of all fatal crashes in Indiana in 2008.

Despite advancements in vehicle safety and passenger protection, crash data has shown a continuous increase in the number of deaths and injuries attributed to speed since 1995. As a result, thousands of Americans die in crashes related to speeding each year.

NHTSA also reports that crashes on a road with a speed limit of 65 mph or more is more than twice as likely to result in a fatality than one ocuring on a road with a speed limit of 45 or 50 mph. The number increases to nearly five times on roads with a speed limit of 40 mph or below.
How Speed Effects You

* Reduces their ability to negotiate curves or maneuver around obstacles in the roadway;
* Extends the distance traveled before a vehicle can stop;
* Increases the distance a vehicle travels while you react to a hazard;
* Increases the risk of crashes and injuries because other vehicles and pedestrians may not be able to judge distance correctly.

Young Males & Motorcyclists Most Often in Speed-Related Crashes
Among drivers involved in fatal crashes, young males are the most likely to have been found speeding. The most recent data indicates that 38 percent of the males age 15-20 involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of the crash. Drivers of all ages may exceed posted speed limits, but the relative proportion of speeding-related crashes to all crashes declines with increasing driver age. Speeding motorcyclists are also over represented in crashes. NHTSA also reported that 34 percent of all motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes were speeding, compared with 22 percent for passenger car drivers, 18 percent for light-truck drivers and 7 percent for large-truck drivers.

Speeding & Impaired Driving: A Deadly Combination
Driving impaired and speeding are a deadly combination. Between midnight and 3 a.m., 75 percent of speeding drivers involved in fatal crashes had been drinking. Forty percent of the drivers involved in fatal crashes were speeding and had a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher according to recent national data. This compares with only 14 percent of the drivers with a BAC of .00 involved in fatal crashes. Twenty-five percent of speeding drivers under age 21 who were involved in fatal crashes had a BAC of .08 or higher. In contrast, 11 percent of non-speeding drivers under age 21 involved in fatal crashes had a BAC of .08 or higher. For drivers between age of 21 and 24 who were speeding and involved in fatal crashes, 50 percent had a BAC of .08 or higher, compared with 24 percent of non-speeding drivers.

The Posted Speed Limit IS THE LAW. Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine.
Many Americans believe they won’t be ticketed if they drive within a “buffer zone” above the posted speed limit.

But now law enforcement will be targeting and ticketing speeding drivers. When it comes to speeding: Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine – the posted speed limit IS THE LAW. In April, Indiana law enforcement officials are stepping up enforcement of speed violators in areas across the state. Focus will be particularly concentrated in school zones, residential neighborhoods and secondary roads.

Our goal is to save lives. When it comes to speeding, no more warnings and no more excuses—Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine.

courtesy ICJI

Black and White Police Cars get “retro” February 16, 2010

Posted by southbendpolice in Feature Stories.
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I was reading an article the other day about the resurgence of  “black and white” police car graphics as a trend in American law enforcement vehicle design.    The article from PoliceOne, says

Law enforcement is a profession of trends and traditions. Few traditions are more identifiable than the black and white police car. In the 90’s, agencies that once sported black and white cars began converting to solid white, green or blue. In recent years, black-and-whites have made a comeback, and street officers are rejoicing.

The black and white theme is catching on here in Indiana as well, with agencies nearby like Elkhart, Shipshewana, Porter and Hobart all sporting a “traditional” black and white themed design.    In studies where a B/W design has been restored, or put in place, there is a noticeable increase in public recognition of the police vehicle, and as a result , of the police themselves.    For agencies that try to maintain a community based approach to policing, visibility of the police is essential in the community.

The street patrol officer must maintain a high degree of visibility in order to collaborate and build relationships with citizens. To this end, having a recognizable police vehicle makes a lot of sense.

Traditionally a two tone paint color has been a cost factor for police fleet budgets, but now the difference in ordering a two tone paint design at the time of pricing a car is typically a $500-600 per-car option.  With the increased popularity of vinyl decal wraps (think NASCAR) to overlay a standard one-color paint design, the difference of ordering an all black car, and utilizing a white door-wrap kit with the graphics printed on the door sheets can be half of that cost, and easily replaced as body damage is incurred.

Historically a black and white car has had the same association with law enforcement as a red truck is associated with fire departments.  One added benefit of the B/W car design is that it does become more eye-catching to the public.  An added benefit to this is not only greater visibility, but in turn, the visibility is noticed in terms of the appearance of more officer presence.

Captain Tim Johnson of the Sunnyvale (CA) Police Department has done extensive research on this topic. He finds that, not only does the public have a positive response to black and white cars, but that officers who drive them are seen as more approachable. Indeed, recent surveys suggest that nearly every department using black and white cars cite increased visibility and accessibility as the main selling points.

With cost not being the factor it used to be for agencies, the increased benefits of police visibility AND approachability, it is a trend that has many positive attributes.

Would you like to see them locally?

Texting While Driving can be a lethal combination January 21, 2010

Posted by southbendpolice in Community Announcements, Feature Stories, In The News.
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Oprah Winfrey has more media influence on people than many other sources, including police agencies do. This week, Oprah featured a story on the dangers of texting while driving on her show, and encouraged people to give up the use of cell phones while driving as a voluntary pledge.

Nearly 500,000 people are injured and 6,000 are killed each year because drivers are talking, texting and e-mailing behind the wheel, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

This is a dangerous trend, especially at greater highway speeds. While cell phone use is not prohibited by Indiana law for the general publicas of yet, legislation has been introduced to ban use of phones while driving as other states have done. In July of 2009, a new law makes it illegal for motorists under age 18 to chat, text, or use a phone to make videos of friends in a car.

Many cities, including South Bend, do restrict this practice to all drivers in certain areas. South Bend ordinance 20-131 bans cell phone use in school zones. Fines range from $75.00 for a first time offense to $250.00 for repeat offenders.

In part, the ordinance states:

Sec. 20-131. Drivers prohibited to use hand-held mobile telephones, mobile communication devices and telecommunication devices while driving in school crossing zone.
(a) A person violates this article if the person uses a hand-held mobile telephone to engage in a call or uses a mobile communication device or other telecommunication device to send, read, or write a text message, while operating a moving motor vehicle in a school crossing zone:
(1) On an official school day;
(2) During the hours when the school crossing zone is in effect;
(3) When signs are conspicuously posted to indicate the beginning and end of the school zone; or
(4) When signs stating “NO TEXT-MESSAGING OR HAND-HELD CELL PHONE USE IN SCHOOL ZONE” or similar language are conspicuously posted at each entrance to the school zone.
(b) An operator of a motor vehicle who holds a mobile telephone or telecommunications device to or in the immediate proximity of his or her ear while the vehicle is in motion is presumed to be engaging in a call under this article. Immediate proximity is any distance that permits the user of a mobile telephone or telecommunication device to hear telecommunications transmitted over the telephone or device and does not require physical contact with the user’s ear.
(Ord. No. 9946-09, § I, 7-27-09)

In 2008 I did a story with WSBT on the dangers of driving using members of the SPBD Explorer post, with some thanks to the people at Tire Rack. The story and video can be found here. If you missed it before, take a look. The results may surprise you!

Please drive safely!

Remembering MPD Cpl. Szuba January 11, 2010

Posted by southbendpolice in Community Announcements, Feature Stories, In The News.
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“When an officer dies in the line of duty, it’s a reality of risk they take upon their shoulders each day to make our community safer,” said Rev. Daniel Coffey, Indiana State Police chaplain.

Truer words have never been spoken. A time of loss of an officer makes other officers reflect on their own personal meanings of life and of job and of duty. In spite of the dangers involved, officers routinely go on with their efforts to make our community a little better and a little safer. In addition to having to pay tribute to a fallen officer. It can be challenging.

The law enforcement community is arguably a profession that is scrutinized, reviewed, scorned, and tested more than any other profession, possibly with the exception of a football referee. Officers are called upon to make split second individual decisions that can set into place timing, events, and procedures that can have a dramatic or lasting effect for years to come. Judgement calls made by one individual can also have an effect on the officer, thinking the ‘what if I only…’ for the rest of that officer’s life.

With that said, when an officer dies a tragic untimely death, it leaves not only the officer’s family, but that officers agency/family with a greater loss. Memorials set up outside stations are a small way that the agency can express their sadness and grief and have a way for police supporters to pay their respects and mourn the loss along with the agency.

A public showing of support for the fallen officer and the agency and its loss can go a long way to help that agency heal. Public support and knowing that there are individuals in our society who share the sense of loss makes a real difference. If you get a chance to do so with Mishawaka Police Department Cpl. James Szuba and his K9 partner Ricky, I encourage you to please do so within this week.

Mishawaka Police Department
200 North Church Street
Mishawaka, IN

Please stop by for a moment to thank and reflect on two officers who gave their all, trying to make our world safer.

Thanks for reading

Mishawaka Officer Down- Some Thoughts. January 10, 2010

Posted by southbendpolice in Community Announcements, Feature Stories, In The News.
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Our neighboring city Mishawaka has lost two officers in a crash Saturday evening. Details are still emerging and I’ll leave that up to the news agencies to report on (Fox28, WNDU, WSBT Tribune all feature breaking news of the story).

For now, I ask that your support, thoughts, prayers and actions keep in mind the loss of Mishawaka Police Officer Corporal James Szuba, and K9 Officer Ricky. Loss of Law Enforcement officers were abounding in 2009. As we start 2010 with mourning the loss of a local officer yet again., it is time to stop and reflect on the service that officers provide. Law Enforcement is a varied and tirelessly thankless line of work. Not without great rewards, nor without great risk.

Few other professions call upon individuals to make the ultimate sacrifice- their lives- as a normal risk associated with it. Fewer jobs call for an employee to make that sacrifice while trying to protect the lives of innocent people from would be predators of society.

If you see an officer at the store or out and about, take a moment to thank them for their sacrifice and efforts. Law Enforcement Officers are not perfect, I think most would agree.

What officers are are real people. Fathers. Mothers. Sons. Daughters. Husbands. Wives. Your neighbor mowing his lawn. Dads cheering their sons at little league. Volunteering at church. Working with at risk teenagers. Paying taxes. Shopping. The same things as everyone else does.

The difference is their jobs involve an inherent risk, that once suited up in the uniform of blue, and sitting in that white car with the lights also takes away that human factor, in favor of a faceless person- “that cop”, if you will.

The personalities, parenting, and other good productive member of society duties do not end for the eight hours that officers are out serving and carrying out their duty as Law Enforcers. Nor do we lose that human side that also enjoys raising families and watching sports, just like everyone else. The difference is even in the most routine of days, officers never know exactly when that sacrifice we all know exists may stare you in the face. You may not even see it coming.

Losing an officer is an unimaginably difficult time for officers, the agencies, families- especially in Law Enforcement where brothers, sons, nephews, and cousins often work side by side or with surrounding agencies- all suffer a terrible loss and unthinkable grief in addition to immediate family suffering.

As I write this, Mishawaka Police Department is planning and setting up a memorial to Cpl. Szuba and Ricky outside their station on Main/Church in Mishawaka. I ask that you take the time to pay your respects to two fine fallen officers, and to reflect on the dangers that local police face in the name of trying to make this area a little safer and better to live as you go out this week.

We thank you.

Celebrate Responsibly This Holiday Season December 28, 2009

Posted by southbendpolice in Community Announcements, Feature Stories.
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New Year’s Eve, along with the general Christmas holiday season with its many traditions, is a time of joy for us all. It’s a time of coming together with family and friends to remember what has been and anticipate what is yet to be. Festivities will abound and the spirit of the season will undoubtedly mean parties, family gatherings and special events.


Following these easy steps, a driver can enjoy a safe and festive holiday without jeopardizing their life and the lives of the others who may be on the road:

* Make a plan to arrive home safely before the festivities begin;
* If you plan to drink, designate a sober driver and give that person your keys;
* Spend the night where your activity is being held;
* If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation;
* If you see a drunk driver on the road, call 911 or contact your local law enforcement agency;
* And remember, if you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.

If you are hosting a party, youhave a legal and moral responsibility-and liability- to ensure that your guests are not endangering themselves or others. Please take steps to monitor your guests, and arrange for designated driver or taxi service as alternate transportation if needed.

Most people think that if they have only ‘had a few’ then they will be okay to get behind the wheel. The fact is, however, that a few usually turns into a few more and then a few more. Studies have recently proven that it is a drunk driving fact that your risks of accident increase with each drink you take.

Certain medications (especially pain killers and anti-depressant drugs) will AMPLIFY the effects of a alcohol. Thus two beers or wines or mixed drinks can have the effect of doubling or tripling the ‘buzzed’ effect that the alcohol will have.

A person’s chances of being involved in a drunk driving accident increase dramatically after every two beers they drink. At the point when you have reached a six pack, your chances of being in a drunk driving accident are up to 44%.

With this and other drunk driving facts in mind, think before the you pick up the keys.


Drinking and driving is the kind of phenomenon that provides clues on how to avoid it through those that weren’t so lucky. In addition to drinking and driving facts, there are many drinking and driving myths that people should not believe. Here are some common facts and myths that we can help clear up to help you be safer on the roads:

FACT: You are more likely to be in a drinking and driving accident during the holidays. Drinking and driving accidents occur with more frequency during holidays due to ‘acceptable’ drinking at parties and family functions. If at all possible, avoid the roads during major holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the 4th of July.

MYTH: Coffee will help an impaired driver get home safely. Nothing could be further from the truth. While coffee can keep you awake from the caffeine, it in no way restores vision and other senses affected by alcohol.

FACT: Teenage drivers are at a higher risk to be involved in a drinking and driving accident. If you have teenage drivers, do whatever you can to ensure that they observe safe driving practices when they are on the road.

MYTH: Bigger people can drink more before driving because it won’t have the same affect on them. Wrong again. While having food in your system will absorb more alcohol, just being big will not have the same effect. An overweight person who has not eaten recently will get just as drunk as anyone else when they have a few drinks.

Pay close attention to the myths and truths when learning about drinking and driving. In between are the drinking and driving facts that everyone should know.

Don’t let your 2009 year end in an arrest—or worse. Did you know that a DUI conviction can cost around $10,000 for a first time offense? Don’t let a $20.00 cab ride be overlooked as being too expensive.

Celebrate the season responsibly by making smart decisions and planning ahead. Whether you’ve had way too many or just one too many, it’s not worth the risk. Officers throughout St. Joseph County and the Indiana State Police will again be out in force over New Years actively looking for intoxicated drivers.

St. Joseph County DUI Task Force officers are highly trained and specialized in DUI detection and testing of impaired subjects. Please take steps to ensure your New Years Eve celebration ends safely and without meeting these officers by accident!