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Quick 3: Ask A Cop October 15, 2009

Posted by southbendpolice in Ask A Cop.
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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!