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Gun violence incidents down compared to same time last year, SBPD says in quarterly update

South Bend Mayor James Mueller and police department officials speak during a quarterly public safety update on Oct. 12.
Jakob Lazzaro
South Bend Mayor James Mueller and police department officials speak during a quarterly public safety update on Oct. 12.

The South Bend Police Department says gun violence in the city is down compared to the same time last year.

According to the department's quarterly public safety update, there have been 735 gun violence incidents so far, around a 19 percent decrease from how things stood at this time in 2021.

The number of victims of gun violence stands slightly higher at 103 compared to 99, but Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski said that’s due to two recent incidents where multiple people were shot.

Gun recovery is down, sitting at 396 so far this year compared to 469 last year, which Ruszkowski said is partially due to the reduced number of incidents.

The department also reports a homicide clearance rate of 77 percent after taking over its own investigations following the dissolution of County Metro Homicide last year. Mayor James Mueller said that’s a success.

“If you commit a homicide in South Bend, it is almost certain that we are going to get you at some point — and oftentimes, very quickly,” Mueller said. “This is not a place to go around shooting. If, God forbid, you kill somebody, our team is on it.”

Ruszkowski agreed, but also urged members of the public to come forward with information during homicide investigations.

“People know something, you need to say something,” Ruszkowski said. “It is our job to investigate, but to get 27 or 40 search warrants for one incident should not be happening. If we had people to come forward, we would solve these a lot sooner.”

Mueller also said the city is on track to launch the Real Time Crime Center by the end of this year. The project will create a central surveillance hub by pulling in security video feeds from around the city, automated license plate readers and the use of facial recognition software.

The South Bend Tribune reports residents raised concerns about that surveillance — especially over how facial recognition will be used — at a public forum last week. Mueller said the city is still collecting feedback on the policies governing the center.

As for staffing, the department held three prospect days hiring events this year, which officials say streamlined the recruiting process by allowing applicants to complete multiple steps in a single day.

Officials said Wednesday that an average of 30 people applied each time, with around one third being moved forward.

The department plans to host its own on-site police academy on Oct. 31 for some of those recruits — 9 are currently at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, and 2 are at the Northwest Indiana Law Enforcement Academy.

The hiring spree is part of efforts to fully staff the department to around 240 officers. As of next week, there will be 223. The city’s 2023 budget includes more funding for SBPD to pay for raises and eight new officer positions as part of a tentative union contract that officials say could lead to a fully staffed SBPD by 2024.

Contact Jakob at or follow him on Twitter at @JakobLazzaro.

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Jakob Lazzaro comes to Indiana from Chicago, where he graduated from Northwestern University in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and a double major in History. Before joining WVPE, he wrote NPR's Source of the Week e-mail newsletter, and previously worked for CalMatters, Pittsburgh's 90.5 WESA and North by Northwestern.