Right now, there are a lot of conversations across the country about the police—who we are, what we do, and how we do it. I believe that these conversations provide an opportunity to show the community, the nation, and the world what it means to be a police officer. That is what makes this moment—right now—so vital. This is our challenge, and our opportunity. We have the chance to shape not just who we are as law enforcement, but who we are as a nation, and a society. It is a tremendous responsibility and I believe that the South Bend Police Department will lead the way. Here are some of the ways we are working to do just that.
Our officers proactively patrol neighborhoods, telling friends and neighbors why we’re there. We become occupants of neighborhoods, not occupying forces in them. We’re absorbed into our neighborhoods, not saturating them. Officers constantly engage in open dialogue with residents and local leaders to understand the needs of the community. If this is not your experience with the South Bend Police Department, we want to know so that we can do better.
We put our officers through rigorous trainings such as: rightful policing, procedural justice, implicit bias, fair and impartial policing, and situational de-escalation. Our officers are well-equipped to deal with situations with caution and care so that the public interest is best served.
As a Department, we are always evaluating our performance: What are we doing? Why are we doing it? How are we doing it? We’re using our experiences of yesterday and today to create better policing practices for the future. Our methods now might not be the same as our methods will be in 2050, so we’re constantly innovating ways in which we serve the people of South Bend and our visitors.
This constant self-questioning and growth reflects how departments conduct their services. Our five pillars—Excellence, Accountability, Innovation, Inclusion, and Empowerment—fit well with police practices. We continually seek to embody these pillars in order to strengthen the connection between SBPD, the community, and City government as a whole.
Many police chiefs often use the term “community-oriented policing.” I’ve found this phrase to be overused and too generic. Instead, SBPD practices community-involved and relationship-policing, with community input, for our city. This means that for us to succeed, we must be in conversation with you, our community. We want to hear your feedback and have open dialogue.
It is a pleasure to serve the people of South Bend. I’m incredibly proud of our officers, as I hope you are, too. The officers and civilians who serve South Bend are a credit to the profession, this department, and our community. I admire our officers’ ability to stay focused, build relationships with residents, carry out tasks, and remain committed to serving and protecting all.
When you see an officer outside of a call, or after one they’ve serviced, I encourage you to introduce yourself to them. Relationships help us to effectively serve our community, and it’s great getting to know our neighbors, our family, along the way.
Scott Ruszkowski-Chief of Police