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New Ask A Cops! March 17, 2010

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Hey everyone! Submissions into the Ask A Cop blog have been few and far between for a while, so I apologize for not publishing often!

To make up for it I’ll fire several off! Lets get started:

Q: If I apply for a permit to carry a handgun in South Bend, does that permit only allow me to carry it in South Bend or can you carry the hand gun outside of city limits as well and still be legal?

A: Weapons carry permits are issued by the agency in the locality you reside in (i.e. South Bend) but are good for statewide carry, as well as any state that has a compact agreement honoring an Indiana permit.

Q: I’m a disabled vet. There is a new neighbor that has moved across the street and parks in front of my home. It’s not that they have alot of cars, only two a truck and a car. and they park in front of my house. everyone parks in front of their own home. If theres an emergency I want to make sure they have no problem getting to me. What can be done. I have asked them to please not to park in front of my residence.

A: Contrary to popular opinion, on street parking is not restricted or otherwise “assigned” to the space in front of one’s home. As a result, there is no enforcement action to be taken for someone simply parking in front of “your” home. An exception is for Disabled parking, in which case you may petition the street department for a reserved Disabled space designation. This would preclude someone without a disabled parking sticker to be cited. You can download the information here.

Q: I am going to be turning eighteen in about a month and I am curious about the Cadet Officer Program.

A: Sadly the Cadet program has been disbanded from future openings due to budget constraints. You may be interested in attending our Citizens Police Academy to get more of an inside look, but no cadet job openings are open any longer.

Q: I have wanted to become a police officer since high school. I am finally pursuing it and have filled out my application and gathered all necessary documents. First question, is it better to turn it in in person or mail it? Second, are there specific times of the year they are accepting applicants and is this one of them?

A: Congratulations on pursuing your dream! I would suggest turning the application in in person to our Training Bureau because if mails and data is omitted or incomplete this may delay or result in your application being rejected. Turning in in person may alleviate this concern. Second, job openings dictate testing and hiring dates. Your application may be turned in anytime, and will be held, and you will be notified via mail when tryouts are planned.

Q: My girlfriend has worked at her job for about 2 years. The owner has been sexually harassing her and others for years. He has gotten worse lately with his approach. She needs a job and is affraid to say anything to him. What can she do?

A: Obviously sexual harassment in the workplace is unwelcome and is a violation of Federal Labor Laws. While not a criminal violation, there are civil penalties that could be levied against her employer. First, anyone in this situation must tell the harasser that the sexual harassment must stop. If it does not, seek assistance through an employer grievance procedure. Document all activity. The next step is to file charges promptly with the nearest Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) office if harassment doesn’t stop. You can typically file charges in person, by phone or mail. Wait as EEOC investigators investigate allegations on a case-by-case basis.

Q: I own a small house in South Bend, at [omitted]. Some of the friends of neighbors and another person has told us that the 3 students living there are “druggies” and that the police come out there regularly. Is there any way that I can find out if any of this is true. I will evict the students if it is. If I have no way of finding out, I am evicting them anyways and selling the house.

A: As a landlord, you could be affected by the city “disorderly house” ordinance. You could try contacting our records bureau to see if there is in fact a history of calls to your rental house, and may be able to obtain more detailed information (see response below on steps). The City Attorney’s office also handles ordinance violations, you may contact them as well to see if your house has had significant issues.

Q: I am being harrased by some text messages. What shoud I do?

A: In most cases, contact your cell phone provider and report the problem. Many carriers can handle the filtering or blocking of unwanted messages/senders first, which will usually take care of the problem. A secondary step -while inconvenient- will also give you better results, which is to switch your number (again, usually done without charge under the circumstances). Just be careful who gets the new number to avoid the unwanted sender from getting the new number.

Q: I want a copy of a police report from 2002. I was not involved in this incident, I just know of it. Is it public record? Can I get a copy of that police report or is it too old. Can I get a copy of that police report even though I was not involved in that incident?

A: The answer is maybe. You would need to fill out a Public Records?FOIA request through the city attorney’s office which is reviewed and you will be notified if the request is approved or not. The report, if approved, may then be obtained for a nominal fee. Info on the process is here.

Thanks for reading- more next week, I promise!

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Ask A Cop- Stun Gun Ordinance clarified January 4, 2010

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EDITORS NOTE: This is the first SBPD Ask A Cop post of 2010 and I mentioned a few days ago as the SBPD Blog attempts to go daily, I will have more time to answer a few more questions along with our news relases and features. As such, you will be seeing more questions answered more frequently!

Q: I am confused about the legality of stun guns within South Bend city limits. According to your “Ask A Cop” blog, any and all stun guns are illegal within South Bend, yet when I checked the ordinance cited in the response, it stated that all weapons which have a ” ‘charge that equals or does not exceed the equivalency of a five (5) milliamp sixty (60) hertz’ shall not be subject to these provisions and shall be governed by applicable state law.”

Exactly which state laws is the ordinance referring to? I went to in.gov, but was unable to find any state legislation concerning stun guns.

A: The IN.gov website does have this information. IC 35-47-8 covers the Regulation of Electronic Stun Weapons, Tasers, and Stun Guns by state statute. You can see it here.

Quick 3: Ask A Cop.. End of 2009! December 28, 2009

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Q: My husband is a Master Taser instructor and wants to purchase a C2 personal taser for me to carry for protection. We have recently heard that if you live in the city of South Bend that you cannot carry a personal taser. Is this true?

A: Correct. Possession of Stun Guns or Tasers is prohibited within South Bend City limits by city ordinance 14-36, which prohibits possession or ownership of ANY type of stun gun by any person, form or entity. Possession offense fines start at $250.00 for each offense/possession count, and will also result in permanent confiscation of the stun gun.

Q: How does an attorney obtain a recording of a 911 call and dispatch from police records? Phone number or address to place request.

A: Requests for public records re handled by the City’s Legal Department, which performs legal services for the City. The Department does not provide legal advice to members of the public. To request public records, you must fill out an Access to Public Records Request form. The request will be sent to the Legal Department to determine if the records requested are discloseable. Not all requests can be granted, some information is not discloseable under law. More info at our Records page.

Q: I live outside of the city, however can I report a drug dealer now (my husband), even though it was 15 years ago that he was the supplier to a local housing project there in South Bend?

A: This type of offense would by outside of the Statute of Limitations, therefore no action can be taken about this type of offense given the time lapse involved.

Quick 3: Ask A Cop December 8, 2009

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Q: Does the South Bend Police Department teach a D.A.R.E. program?

A: The SBPD DARE program is no longer offered in SBCSC schools. Budget and staffing issues eliminated the program approximately 9 years ago.

Q: I would like to know what trouble the city of South Bend and surrounding areas has ever had with biker gangs, clubs and
organizations. Some clubs have a negative stigma about them and have been linked to crimes in northern Indiana in the past.  I would like to note that this question doesn’t mean to generalize all biker gangs as trouble makers, because I know a lot of them out there are good people.

A: Locally the Hells Angels is the only outlaw biker club with an established local clubhouse.  There have not been any significant events with “outlaw” biker gangs in recent years.  It is said that many “outlaw” Motorcycle clubs (MC)s are known to be involved in many illegal criminal enterprises.  This can be true at times, however much of this is club and/or chapter dependent.

Q: What are certain restrictions on carrying a rifle/shotgun in a personal vehicle.  Can it be loaded, do you need a permit to have it loaded.  What is Indiana’s definition of “long gun?”

A: No state permit is required for the possession of a rifle or shotgun in Indiana. There is no specific law regulations on weapons being unloaded or not also.  It is unlawful to possess a firearm on school property, property used for a school function, or a school bus. (Note that this prohibition shall not apply to a person who may legally possesses a firearm and possess the firearm in a motor vehicle while transporting another person to or from school or a school function.)  Handguns are regulated by Weapons Carry permits issued through the IN State Police.

Ask A Cop- Obtaining Public Records/Photos December 4, 2009

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Been a slow couple of weeks with incoming Ask A Cops, but here is the most recent one I have!

Q: Due to the public information act isn’t it a law that information like arrest photos be available to be seen?  And how does one  go about getting that info?   Does S.B.P.D. try to put a charge on that since there isn’t a web site available?

A: Arrest photos are taken during the arrest process at and by the St Joseph County Police Jail division.  as such, those specific photos would have to be requested through the SJCPD.

Generally speaking, to obtain information, including photos or reports through the SBPD, any Public Records Requests are handled through the city Legal Department, using the following process:

PUBLIC RECORDS REQUESTS:
To request public records, you must fill out an Access to Public Records Request form.

  • Submit this form to the Department having possession of the records.
  • The request will be sent to the Legal Department to determine if the records requested are discloseable.
  • Not all requests can be granted, some information is not discloseable under law

Quick 3: Ask A Cop October 15, 2009

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Q: I’d like to know what actions are being taken by the SBPD in regards to the recent resurgence of gang graffiti. The graffiti is becoming more prevalent in areas not usually bothered before, such as an alarming amount along the river walk near IUSB.

A: The South Bend Police Department is taking a three-pronged approach of intervention, prevention, and enforcement to address this ugly mark on the community’s landscape. Graffiti complaints are often noted by patrol officers and a “neighborhood tracking form” can be filled out by officers if made aware of the complaint or seen while on patrol, to first be aware of a specific affected area or property.

Intervention methods include creating an informational brochure on what to look out for and how to report these crimes to the police. As for enforcement, recently our investigating officers developed enough intelligence to conduct two search warrants that led to the arrest of two local juveniles, resulting in over 20 charges.

Most of the graffiti littering the city is from “taggers.” Taggers are usually not affiliated with a particular gang, but consider themselves urban graffiti “artists.”

Officers may also work with surrounding jurisdictions and the courts to determine the best practice for recuperating and rehabilitating defaced properties. Although progress is being made, graffiti is a continuous problem requiring constant attention.

The community can cooperate by quickly reporting instances of graffiti so that police may document and photograph it. After an incident is documented, property owners need to remove graffiti as soon as possible. One of the biggest issues in preventing future taggings is when when graffiti is not removed promptly, the lack of removal of the graffiti does tend to invite more incidents. So one of the best ways to prevent the spread in a given area is for the property owner to clean up/cover as quickly as possible, each time.

Q: Do police officers have the opportunity to chose their own weapons? If so then why does the police department have to pay for them?

A: The SBPD issues all officers the same standard firearm, currently a .40 cal semi automatic Sig Sauer brand handgun. Officers do have the option of purchasing and carrying their own secondary weapon (a ‘back up’) that is departmentally approved. Officers who do so must also qualify their shooting proficiency with these weapons, and their own ammunition annually. Same for weapons an officer may choose to carry while off duty.

Q: Is there somewhere I can report that my child support hasn’t been paid anonymously? What do you do if it hasn’t been paid in years, or very little in years?

A: Since child support is court ordered, it would be a matter of Probate Court public record, so there is no way to file a complaint for action without eventually being a court record. You would need to contact St. Joseph County Probate Court for more information or seek legal assistance to petition a violation of child support hearing. Good luck!

Quick 3: Ask A Cop October 6, 2009

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Q: If a car was towed and impounded can the tow company keep you from obtaining personal items like purse house keys etc.?

A. In short, yes. When a vehicle is impounded by police, items of value are inventoried and documented, but al;l property in the vehicle at the time of the impound tow will remain in the vehicle and will not be released by the tow company until the impound is paid. Exceptions to this will typically be something needed to get the vehicle out of impund, such as vehicle registration or related paperwork ID cards, etc.

Q: I moved to Indiana from out of state. I recently bought a vehicle and have temporary registration on it for the next 30 days as listed on the temp. plate. My question is: Am I allowed to drive around on temporary tags until I can attain permanent tags, or is the temporary tag only meant to be used for driving to the BMV to acquire permanent tags only?

A. The 30 day expiration on a temporary registration in Indiana plate allows you that time to get proper registration/plates taken care of within that time. You can operate the vehicle freely within that time. By IN law, temporary plates MUST be affixed to the rear of the vehicle were a regular plate would go, and must be “permanently affixes”, and must be illuminated at night. Many auto dealers will tape temporary plates in the back window, however this is an incorrect plate display. You could be stopped and/or ticketed for this, so please be sure it meets those standards.

Q: Does the South Bend Noise Ordinance apply to bars located in a residential neighborhood?

A: The city noise ordinance (13-57) covers in detail noise and prohibited noises. It is listed in detail on the city website. In short, section 2 states:

Using, operating, or permitting to be played, used or operated any radio, television, boombox, stereo, radio receiving set, musical instrument, or other machine or device that produces or reproduces sound in a manner as to unreasonably disturb the peace and quiet of the neighboring inhabitants or any person who in the room, vehicle or chamber in which such machine or device is operated and who is not a voluntary listener, or which is plainly audible at a distance of fifty (50) feet from the building, structure or vehicle in which it is located and unreasonably disturbs the peace and quiet of neighbors in residential or noise sensitive areas, including multifamily or single-family dwellings. The operation of such device in a manner prohibited herein between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. shall be prima facie evidence of a violation of this section.

If you feel a violation is taking place you can contact police to address, or you may also contact the city attorney’s office for more information.

Quick 3: Ask A Cops September 29, 2009

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Q: I am very intersted in taking my career step into law enforcement is there an internship I can take or participate in to futher my experience?

A: One of the best ways to get a feel for the work tat we do is to attend our Citizens Police Academy sessions, which are free to residents. Take a look for more info, or for our JOBS page for employment information.

Q: Why are ther speed limits in area school zones different? Some are 20 MPH and others are 25 MPH. It seems as if the busier the street, the higher the speed limit. It should be just the opposite.

A: Speed limits are mostly dictated by the city department of traffic engineering, which is based upon many factors such as road design, traffic patterns, traffic volume, etc. A school zone speed reduction is primarily based upon the primary speed of the roadway.

Q: How can my Mom get a copy of her mug shot from an arrest at your police station?

A: Mug shots are take by the county police at the jail. Mug shots are not typically made available to persons, however you may be able to fill out a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for a photograph by contacting county police records.