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South Bend On Track To See One Of Most Violent Years, Police Chief Says

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Annacaroline Caruso / WVPE Public Radio
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South Bend officials are concerned about what they describe as increasing amounts of gun violence and fighting in the city. 

So far this year, 86 people in South Bend have been the victims of gunfire during a crime and 14 people have been killed. That’s according to the city’s police department.

South Bend Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski pointed to several incidents where he said large parties saw fights break out and gunfire.

“We’re on track right now to see one of the most violent years we’ve ever had in South Bend,” he said.

Ruszkowski said starting this coming weekend, the police department plans on stepping up traffic and ordinance enforcement - looking for people driving without a license, with expired tags, or exhibiting disorderly conduct.

He said doing this can prevent crime from escalating.

“When these things happen, we’re going to intervene, you’re going to get tickets, you may get jailed, you may get your vehicles impounded.”

He said there will also be an additional 10 to 20 officers working most weekends, nearly doubling the normal amount of weekend patrol. The St. Joseph County Police Department plans to step in if needed.

Ruszkowski said several factors may be contributing to the spike in crime, including the pandemic.

Officials said people and cars blocking first responders from reaching an emergency has also been a major issue this year.

South Bend Fire Chief Carl Buchanon said there have been several times this year where paramedics were forced to find an alternate route when responding to an emergency.

“Lives can be lost due to the seconds that it would take us to either take a non-direct route or not be able to get to the scene at all.”

Ruszkowski said blocking first responders is considered disorderly conduct and people could face tickets or jail time.

Contact Annacaroline at acaruso@wvpe.org or follow her on Twitter at @AnnacarolineC16

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