Friday, December 29, 2006
Post Holiday updates
I have a new batch of questions again this week. Sorry for being a bit late, as I tried to answer over the Chirstmas holiday but could not get the answers published due to server problems.
Best wishes for a happy 2007 for you, and thanks for reading!
posted by South Bend Police Department @ 10:22 AM  
Missing Persons Cases
Q:How Long after a missing persons report is filed and a case number is assigned, does a detective call to pursue the case? What else can we do to assist the police, besides revisit all the options we tried BEFORE contacting the police and filing a missing persons report?

A: Law enforcement guidelines require that a reporting person must believe that a missing individual is a vulnerable adult or will harm himself or others before a police report can be taken. Alcohol or chemical dependency issues do not count towards being considered a "vulnerable" adult, and no missing persons report is generally needed, or if there are no signs of foul play. Adults are free to roam about as they please. As a concerned reporting person, it is important to understand what really happens after the missing person report is filed:

* The police department will determine if the individual truly is a threat to himself or others or is a vulnerable adult. If he/she is, the person’s name can be entered into the national database.
* Our department is not going to actively search for the individual unless there is some extreme circumstance that dictates a search. This usually involves some physical evidence of foul play, etc.
* If a police officer comes upon the missing person in the course of his normal duty, the officer cannot arrest this individual as no crime has been committed. You may receive a call and be told where the individual is and his status.

If this individual is having a mental health emergency, he/she may be placed on a 72 hour police hold at Madison Center if circumstances dictate. If he/she is overly intoxicated, they may be taken to a detox facility/hospital for detoxification. At this time, the individual becomes the reporting person’s responsibility.
posted by South Bend Police Department @ 10:15 AM  
Cyber Security
Q:I'm a student and am interested in cyber security. I was wondering who I might talk to for more information about getting started. I was told by an Elkhart city officer that either the city of South Bend had someone in this field. I was wondering if there was anyway to get started without attending the academy right away as I have just started college and have a child on the way in a few months. Any help would be appreciated.

A:The SBPD has no formal "cyber security" unit. Cyber crimes are handled through a special division of the prosecutor's office High Tech Crimes Unit locally. As for you wanting to break into this field, you would best be served by becoming an officer, gaining several years of patrol experience and then move on to an investigative position to advance to such a unit, in addition to other studies and training you may have in this area to put you ahead. Good luck!
posted by South Bend Police Department @ 10:07 AM  
Carrying a handgun/purchasing firearms
Q:What are the laws regarding registration and ownership of a handgun when purchased from a private owner? I will be purchasing my brothers handgun from him, which was originally purchased from a local gun dealer. I will be applying for a state CCW permit, but I would like to be able to take the gun to a local firing range to familiarize myself with it before the permit comes back. Is it legal to transport the gun, unloaded and broken down locked in the trunk without a permit? Do I need to register the gun with the city?

A:Purchasing a handgun in Indiana is realtively simple. An overview of state laws can be found here for what you need to know. As for transporting a handgun, Indiana law requires that a carry permit is required to transport a handgun in a vehicle.
posted by South Bend Police Department @ 10:02 AM  
Volunteering at CFH?
Q: I am a college student at IU South Bend and I would like to do some community service. I am considering volunteering at the Center for the Homeless in SB. But I don't want to put myself in a high risk situation; would going there alone to volunteer be unadvisable in your opinion?

A: You should not have any problems in volunteering. The CFH staff is trained and residents there are generally aware of the policies of the CFH. Off duty SBPD officers are also present there working security. Call them, I am sure they can give you more information, and good luck!
posted by South Bend Police Department @ 9:59 AM  
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Disorderly house next door
Q:when my new neighbors moved in a few months it was just her and her 2 kids. Now 2 more all live in that small house. Her yells at the time and both me and another neighbor smell pot almost everyday most time on the front porch between 6:30pm and 7. I called the police twice, both times they missed them. Is there anything that can be done?

A: I see by your post that you live in Mishawaka, so what MPD does may differ. Based upon what you see, if there is signs of a domestic disturbance or loud noise coming from the vehicle you can contact police, however any action taken depends upon the circumstances at that time. Enforcement may be taken from investigation, a full report, or simplay asking them to keep the noise down. As for possible narcotics use, you can report suspected drug activity countywide at 235-9406 to the tip line.
posted by South Bend Police Department @ 11:21 PM  
Stolen Vehicle Registration=Identity Theft?
Q: Someone broke into my car. The only thing that was stolen was my registration. could someone try to my identity with just that?
A: Not likely. Vehicle registration does not contain your Social Security number or orther more personal information, other than the registered owner name/address, and the vehicle information itself.
posted by South Bend Police Department @ 11:17 PM  
Monday, December 18, 2006
Maximum Age for Applicants
Q:How come their is a maximum age for applicants to the police department? What is the logic there especially when many other municipal departments around the U.S. and Canada have no such limit? Also, why do sherrif's departments have no limit? Are they not considered police officers? Thank you.
A. There is a maximum age limit for officers in the state of Indiana due to the fact that Police Officers in the state of Indiana must take part in the PERF retirement fund (see question on that below), and the requirement for that is a maximum age of 36 years old at the time of hire. This is a statewide law for Indiana Law Enforcement Agencies. Sheriff departments vary slightly in their structure by law also. You can find more information on that by searching the state website.
posted by South Bend Police Department @ 12:37 PM  
Criminal Record access
Q: Does the general public have access to criminal records and if so, what process would you follow to review them?
A: The general public does not have access to criminal records or otherwise. You may be able to obtain copies of certain documents, such as accidents or other crime reports if you are a named party in the report, but generally speaking criminal records and reports are considered sensetive to law enforcement and cannot be accessed. You can also contact our records bureau if you have a specific question about a report at 235.9212
posted by South Bend Police Department @ 12:18 PM  
Check Scam!
Q: About two months ago I placed an ad on wndu.com about items for sale. I had a response from out of the country. A guy wanted to buy all items sight unseen, he was to mail me a money order to amount larger than asking price to cover sending those items. I was to notify him and his preferred shipper when the money clear. I thought it to be a hoax.
To my amazement last Friday I received a $3500 check (the value of merchandise was $350). Not a money order but a check from some NY company. It came in a plain envelope from out of the country without a return address. I have the gut feeling something is not right, but I have no idea what to do with it.

A. You are right that it is a scam. I again refer you to snopes.com for more information on these hoaxes. Cashing a check for more than the amount of the item you are selling will end up costing your money when the bank notifies you that it is a counterfeit check, long after the funds from your account have been taken out and paid to the "buyer"- Don't do it! More information and advice on that is found here.
posted by South Bend Police Department @ 12:04 PM  
Sunday, December 17, 2006
City Crime Log?
Q: I was looking for a way to view the city crime log that shows recent arrests, more specifically, that shows DUI arrests. There are many parents that would like to know if their adult children students are in trouble or not. Also, I think it would cause people to think twice about DUI if they knew it would be publicized.

A: At this time crime information is not published online for review for several reasons. Local media, specifically The Tribune, does visit the police station daily and reviews crime information, then publishes certain crimes of interest in the local 'briefs' section. The amount of calls for service that we handle daily precludes every even from being published, I am sure. You may consider contacting the local media sources and let them know you would like to see more information on the daily crimes being published.

posted by South Bend Police Department @ 11:55 AM  
Domestic Violence Arrests
Q: If a police officer is responding to a call about domestic violence and the victim claims nothing happened and says they do not want to press charges can the police still take the person to jail. Or is it true that the female has to actually press charges before the police can do anything?

A: In cases of Domestic Violence, if there are clear signs of violence ocurring then officers can make an arrest if needed, even if the victimized party does not want to report the incident. This is known as Warrantless Arrest for Domestic Battery and Battery. I.C. 35-33-1-1(a)(5). Law enforcement officers in Indiana, given probable cause, can make an on-scene, warrantless arrest for the misdemeanor crimes of Battery resulting in bodily injury, or Domestic Battery. Under Indiana law, victims are not required to sign any type of affidavit in order for an arrest to be made.

posted by South Bend Police Department @ 11:36 AM  
Friday, December 15, 2006
Laws concerning cell phone use while driving?
Q: What are the laws concerning cell phone use while driving? What if a person sees somethingillegal happening requiring "the whereabouts of the crime?" In that instance what should a person do?

A. Indiana has no specific
law banning use of cell phones while driving as of yet, however cell phone use while driving has been proven to be a dangerous distraction in many studies.


As a patrol officer I find that many crashes are the cause of this, so obviously the less you can drive and use your cell phone the better you are. I have made traffic stops watching vehicles giving the exact signs of drunk driving indicators that found to be the driver was completely sober when tested, but was using a cell phone.

If you are driving and need to report something to us, then I encourage you to call and give detailed information as needed, preferably pulling over to do so. We do not encourage you to keep following vehicles, for example, that may be doing something dangerous as a general rule, so the advice is to phone us with as much detailed information (especially the exact license plate number)and do so as safely as possible.
posted by South Bend Police Department @ 2:24 PM  
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Sting operations
Q: I have wondered for quite awhile, and each time that I read the newspaper and see that a sting operation was imposed to nail prostitutes, why don't they do a sting like this to capture the muggers, rapist, robbers and the rest of the criminals that are lurking the streets of South Bend. I know prostitution is an illegal activity, and yes, I also know it is NOT a victimless crime. I feel that taxpayers money would be better spent by getting the more threatening type of scum off the streets first. Thanks for reading.

A: Sting operations and other undercover operations involving surveillance of suspected drug dealers, burglary suspects, would-be robbers, as well as other operations attempting to catch criminals in the acts is done nearly every day. Our NEST team is designed to handle operations such as this, while Metro Special Operations (MSOS) utilizes undercover officers for drug dealing also. Many proactive patrol officers including myself address these problems at the uniform level every day- identifying suspects, contacting suspects of the crimes you mention, and we also take part in both marked and unmarked surveillance type operations and specialty patrol units at the shift levels as manpower permits. You may not always see it reported in the papers, but trust me, it is being done!
posted by South Bend Police Department @ 11:08 PM  
How far from the city limits can the city police cite motorists
Q: How far from the city limits can the city police cite motorists for minor traffic offenses occurring out of the city limits? What authority do the city police have outside their own city limits?

A: As provided by state law, all sworn police officers in Indiana have full police powers statewide, so theoretically an officer from South Bend can perform police duties, such as issuing traffic citations or making arrests anywhere within the state. Since SBPD officers have take home cars, officers (myself included) commonly make traffic stops for traffic violations ocurring anywhere in St Joseph County. (Dept. policy requires SBPD take home cars to be kept within the county unless being used for
department business).

posted by South Bend Police Department @ 4:46 PM  
Monday, December 11, 2006
What calls are priority over others?

Q: I would like to know how officers decide what calls are priority over others? For instance if there are 2 stabbings on the same incident what could be a priority over that?

A: Our calls are dispatched on a priority basis depending upon several factors, such as life threatening injuries, if the crime is "in progress", and calls that require mutiple units to respond. In addition, call volume if exceptionally high, may require units from one side of town to respond to another side of town
if other 'local' beat units are tied up. Calls are dispatched as soon as the call comes in. The calls for service we recieve are handled and prioritized by the CAD (computer aided dispatch) software, and as the other circumstances mentioned dictate.

posted by South Bend Police Department @ 11:59 PM  
How is the overall crime rate determined for the city?

Q: How is the overall crime rate determined for the city each year, and is there anywhere online it can be accessed?

A:
Overall crime rates in the city are based upon the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program developed by the FBI. Our RCI Unit is responsible for collecting this data and in turn uses this data for analysis of the crimes, of identifying known persons of interest in the crimes, and in solving these crimes. Much of the data is law enforcement sensitive and generally this information is not made public, however RCI unit officers do share some of this overall data at monthly neighborhood meetings. We do not make this
information available online at this time, however I encourage you to learn more about the meetings and neighborhood watch meetings by clicking here or here.

posted by South Bend Police Department @ 3:34 PM  
My son was later assaulted by acquaintances

Q: My son and his girlfriend were having an argument. My son was later assaulted by acquaintances of his girlfriend. He's afraid that if they know that he reported them, then someone will retaliate and the situation will become much worse. Please give me some advice as to how to advise him or how I could report this to make you all aware if something else were to happen to my childor his friend.

A: Obviously it is difficult to anticipate if your son could be assaulted at a later time or not. The best advice I can give you is to make sure your son tries to protect himself by simply preventing situations like that from ocurring: Travelwith another friend(s) when possible (safety in numbers is true!), keep a cell phone handy and call 911 if he feels threatened. Trying to avoid the sitauation and the hostile parties is best- staying away from a known problem house or persons who might cause him harm, and not trying to make the situation worse by egging the others on- name calling, threatening to get revenge, etc are the best ways to try to prevent afuture attack by these acquaintances.

posted by South Bend Police Department @ 1:25 PM  
Officers to take sides in a protest?

Q: What is the department's policy regarding law-abiding demonstrators and displaying political affiliations or opinions while on duty? I am a longtime opponent of the US invasion of Iraq and for the first couple of years of the war, I was made to feel quite uncomfortable by the police officers who drove by those of us who protest the war downtown on Monday afternoons. Police cruisers made
it clear they supported the invasion and were against our protests. Is it within departmental policy for on duty officers to take sides in a peaceful lawful political debate or protest?

A: Officers are when on duty expected to be representing the police department in their official capacity as police officers. Without knowng the circumstances of the "police cruisers making it clear" they were against your protest is a broad statement it is difficult to give an answer as to what exactly was done that you felt this way. Officers are summoned to gatherings such as the ones
you mention for a variety of reasons, but mostly to prevent obstruction of traffic or public disturbances.

An officer who, for example, may have required your group to move or quiet down, may have been viewed by you as not being in support, however the greater good of maintaining peaceful order it the function of the police in a case such as what you describe.

posted by South Bend Police Department @ 12:57 PM  
Semis with tandem trailers driving on city streets

Q: I would like to know if it is legal for semis with tandem trailers to drive on city streets. Also is there a certain lenght of trailer that can'tbe driven on city streets.

A: Semis are prohibited on most non designated (i.e. residential streets. Trucks over a certain GVW (most tractor trailers) are prohibited unless making deliveriesto a nearby address.

posted by South Bend Police Department @ 12:42 PM  
"Turn on arrow only"

Q: Are you allowed to turn at a red light if the sign doesn't say "Turn on arrow only"?

A: Indiana Code 9-21-3-7 allows you to make a right run on red, except when a sign is in place prohibiting a turn... vehicular traffic facing a steady red signal, after coming to a complete stop, may cautiously enter the intersection to make a right turn, or make a left turn if turning from the left lane of a one-way street into another one-way street with the flow of traffic. To stop at a stop light then proceed to make a turn on red across traffic if there is no oncoming trafficis illegal.

posted by South Bend Police Department @ 10:33 AM  
Robbed at an ATM

Q: I need your help in either proving me wrong or dispelling an urban legend that said as a "safety tip" if you are ever robbed at an ATM to enter your pin in reverse order. This, supposedly, will still dispense the cash but will also automatically phone the nearest police department and have officers rushed to the scene. I wrote the person that sent the forward to say that I suspected this was not factual. My thoughts were that an ATM only knows your correct pin, any other series of numbers is just wrong, not an emergency warning. I also said I doubted that every ATM (or any for that matter)in the world was wired into the 911 emergency system. The individual responded that "someone" who sent it to her had already checked this with the police and that it was true, although, they were a little vague on the specifics. My thoughts were that if this isn't true (and I suspect it isn't) that it could put anyone trying into a dangerous situation. Anyway, can you give me an authoritative response to this question? Thanks foryour help.

A: You are correct on this as an urban legend. Snopes.com is considered the best buster of urban legends and this ATM PIN one is there as well. This legend isfalse, but there is some fact to the origin of it. You can read it all here.

posted by South Bend Police Department @ 10:32 AM  
Cop cars with tinted windows

Q: Why do a lot of cop cars get away with tinted windows? Are they above the law?

A: South Bend Police cars are restricted on window tinting with the exception of K9 cars, to provide better cooling and a safer envirionment for the canine officer. Darker tint than the standard previosly covered below can be permittedthrough special exemptions for police vehicles under the state law.

posted by South Bend Police Department @ 10:30 AM  
Drugs are being sold [at my apartment complex]

Q: I am almost certain drugs are being made and sold, along with prostitution problems [at my apartment complex]. I fear trouble for saying anything. Can this be checked out?

A: You can report criminal activity to us via phone. To report potential drug related activity, please call 574.235.9406 or you can call to report through our Crime Stoppers Anonymous Tips Line at 574.288.STOP. It is most helpful to know the exact address whre you believe this is taking place, along with times of occurence. If vehicles are involved, descriptions and ideally license plates of the vehicles
are very helpful to allow us to conduct an investigation and or surveillance by marked or unmarked police units.

posted by South Bend Police Department @ 10:27 AM  
What does PERF stand for?

Q: Under the FAQS page on A Call To Service, there is a question that asks: 'What are the basic steps in the hire process?' It says that the last part is a PERF Interview. What does PERF stand for?

A: PERF is the Public Employees' Retirement Fund, by the state of Indiana, for police and other public safety employee pension benefits for those who choosecareers in public service. More information about PERF can be found here.

posted by South Bend Police Department @ 10:26 AM  
Friday, December 08, 2006
Police car going much faster than the speed limit

Q: I was driving on Day Road recently to go home appox. 6:10pm and a police car was going much faster than the speed limit (limit is 40mph.) He had no flashing lights. I have seen this often with police cars going over the speed limit without flashers. What exactly is the rule? All cars must obey speed limit signs, while police cars do not have to? Please inform me of the rules, I have looked at the BMV for help but there are no exceptions to the speed limit signs/rules that Ihave seen. Thank you.

A: All officers are expected to obey traffic laws the same as everyone else. Indiana law does exempt officers under certain times, such as emergenices requiring lights and siren. However, the answer is a bit more complex, as not every call or request for assistance demands an officer run red lights and siren to a call, yet getting to a call or location quickly is important (example- in progress burglaries
where a siren would give advance warning of impending police arrival). The location you mention is out of the city limits, so another possibility was that an officer may have been summoned to help a county officer as often happens within our jurisdiction. The matter will be reviewed further to attempt to find out.

posted by South Bend Police Department @ 12:07 PM  
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Identity theft

Q: Is identity theft a federal crime?

A: The short answer is that identity theft is a crime. It can be prosecuted at the state or federal levels, depending upon the circumstances and value of thetheft involved.

posted by South Bend Police Department @ 6:01 PM  
Why are you called police officers?

Q: Why are you called police officers?

A: Wikipedia says it best: Police are public servants of a city, town, municipality, county, or state, with the responsibility of maintaining law and order (law enforcement), and also hold the responsibility of protecting the general public from harm. The word comes from French police, itself from Latin politia ("civil administration"). The word police was first recorded in the French language in 1250 (in the sense of "administration, political organisation"), but it acquired its modern sense of preservation of law and order only in the 17th century. The police may also be known as a constabulary, after constables, who were an early manifestation of police officers, although the term constable is still in use in some jurisdictions.In North America, typically the legal term for "police officer" is peace officer.

posted by South Bend Police Department @ 2:42 PM  
Copy of my mugshot

Q:I was arrested in 2003. Is there a way to get a copy of my mugshot photo? And if so how much does it cost?

A: Booking and jailing is done by the St Joseph County Police. No mugshots are made available to the public for any reason.

posted by South Bend Police Department @ 10:15 AM  
A relative being murdered

Q: My family would never speak about a relative being murdered. I would like to find out what really happened without causing any stress for my family. Where would I start looking for information about this crime? I don't even know the exact date they died, or I would look in a local newspaper. It's been several years and I would just like to know if the men are still in jail. Any assistancewould be appreciated.

A: Without knowing the basics, as you mention, like a date, it is difficult to help you as well. You might try searching the newspapers for your relative's name as a starting point. Once you track more information down that way then you may be able to find out the names of the convicted party. You can also try the IN Dept. Of Corrections website.

posted by South Bend Police Department @ 9:04 AM  
Sunday, December 03, 2006
What will employer background checks reveal?

Q: I was accused of shoplifting & completed the pre trial diversion program. How is this listed on my record, I was never convicted. I am reformed now. What will employer background checks reveal?

A: If you are offered and accepted into the Diversion Program, your case will be dismissed after a period of one year (thereby avoiding a conviction) as long as the requirements and conditions of your specific agreement have been fulfilled. As for an arrest record, ANY arrest will still remain on your police record/criminal check, however the "conviction" aspect will show pretrial diversioncompleted, in lieu of a conviction for the Misdemeanor crime you committed.

posted by South Bend Police Department @ 9:25 AM  
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Looking for an officer

Q: I am looking for an officer that I lost contact with. Any info on him?


A: The best way to contact the officer direct is to call 574.235-9201 and request the officer.
If the officer works in the field you can leave them a voice mail that can be checked by the officer daily.

posted by South Bend Police Department @ 1:45 PM  
Friday, December 01, 2006
Supervised Visitation
Q: My child's father uses drugs, and he demands to see his daughter after 3 years of being locked up in a prison. I don't trust him. Can I request supervised visitation at the JJC building?

A:
Your matter is a compliccated one, as custodial and parental issues commonly are. The visititation agreement needs to be legally planned out and ordered by a judge. During this hearing you can explain why you feel he is untrustworthy and would require supervised visits. Your best bet is to consult family law counsel, or you can get more information at the St Joseph County Probate Court homepage.
posted by South Bend Police Department @ 2:19 PM  

Welcome to the newly reformatted South Bend Police Department Blog. This blog is an excellent way for us to be more accessible to the public through open communication not typical for law enforcement.

This blog incorporates SBPD related announcements, our popular Ask A Cop feature questions still answered, Twitter updates, and other Crime Prevention related tips you can use.

Take a look at the articles posted on this blog and you’ll find many inform-
ative and interesting topics. We try to cover issues that really affect you such as providing a wide range of safety and crime prevention tips, or explaining some of the mysteries of police work so you have a better understanding of why we do things.

You also get to hear periodically from our guest bloggers such as recruits going through the academies to become officers. “Ask A Cop” is still here, and since 2006 has been very popular with over 360 questions from citizens and our answers posted to date!


Thanks for visiting. If you have any questions or suggestions about the blog, contact us!

About Ask A Cop
The South Bend Police Ask A Cop forum and blog is provided for entertainment purposes only. Content provided is for general information and does not represent an all inclusive answer for every person and every situation.

As such, all content is provided 'as is' and without warranties or guarantees of any kind, either express or implied. Use of this site and reliance on the content is exclusively at the user's risk.

Information provided on or through this site does not constitute legal advice nor legal representation. For these purposes, the user should consult an attorney.

Questions submitted to Ask A Cop are read and reviewed to determine the eligibility of the question for publication.
The South Bend Police Department reserves the right not to answer or post a question, particularly if the content is deemed unacceptable or inappropriate.

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