Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Fireworks Use UPDATE
I also wanted to mention an update to an answer I gave last week about Fireworks use. The Governor has given local jurisdictions the right to make the State law more restrictive. However, South Bend City has yet to formally establish such an ordinance. I know they are drafting one, but, again, nothing is officially "on the books."

As such the current city ordinance for "unreasonable noise" will not sufficiently cover fireworks related complaints and cannot be enforced as such. City Council is drafting new law regarding fireworks and will be more restrictive on the dates, but until that passes (unclear if it will be in time for July 4th this year), no enforcement action on fireworks can be taken by police. As such, the default law in effect at this time is Indiana state law allowing year round fireworks use.

Bear in mind that with debris, you are still liable for mess and cleanup (including neighbors yards, streets, etc) and could be cited for littering or dumping ordinance violations. Use common sense and safety practices, and be respectful of those around you to avoid problems. More information on fireworks is here on the city website.

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posted by South Bend Police Department @ 11:30 AM  
Airsoft/real gun look-alikes part 2
Q: Are airsoft guns illegal in the city limits?

A: Airsoft guns are spring, electric, or gas powered air guns that fire small spherical plastic pellets, and usually are replicas (in appearance only) of real firearms. These weapons are full size, weighted replicas of real handguns or rifles, and as police encounter them, that are usually modified to blur the thin line that shows they are not the real thing, including painting or filing off the orange tip, or other wise being modified.

Below is a picture of a Sig Sauer P229- our exact weapon. Near identical in appearance:


These weapons are carried on the streets in the same manner as real guns are, and police and other individuals have no idea if the "man with a gun" call they are responding to are involving legitimate firearms, or airsoft weapons. As such, police are faced with a potentially deadly force situation and we respond to these calls with that and a very heightened awareness in mind. This usually involves putting the airsoft carrying person at gunpoint and treating it like the real thing, since we don't know.

To answer your question, no they are not illegal as of yet to carry, however as I mention above, if the Airsoft is being carried, used, or displayed in an unsafe or irresponsible manner this will likely result in the weapon's permanent confiscation and possibly other criminal charges.

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posted by South Bend Police Department @ 10:55 AM  
Neighborhood Meetings with Police?
Q: I have request. I am somewhat new to the Kennedy Park area and would love to meet and get to know the officers who patrol the area. I'm a firm believer that citizens have a responsibility to partner with the police department to protect our community, not only for our safety, but for the safety of the officers, also. Does your department offer any meet-and-greet type programs in place for situations like this? Any opportunity would be appreciated!

Q: Thanks for wanting to be involved and getting to know your area. I would suggest contacting our Crime Prevention office. The CP officers can give you more information on Neighborhood Watch meetings, and also on community partnership meetings that take place in neighborhoods through the city. During these monthly meetings, CP officers will give you information on local issues and safety tips, and the officers assigned to your area may stop by as time and calls for service permit. You can reach them at 235-9037.
posted by South Bend Police Department @ 10:45 AM  
Citation on Private Property
Q: Can the police issue a ticket on private property?

A: You did not specify what the citation is for, but police are authorized to enforce local and state ordinances and statues on both private and public property, including traffic offenses in most cases.
posted by South Bend Police Department @ 10:42 AM  
Employment Scam?
Q: I do not know who to send this information to. While browsing through the South Bend Tribune want ads, I came across an online/telecommuting position which I responded to, asking several questions. I just received a response from the person stating the business is his. This is definitely a scam which I saw featured on tv.

I would like to know who to report the ad to? I'm afraid young adults/older individuals will think this is a valid job opportunity and get themselves into trouble financially. The position requires that you accept checks, deposit them into your personal checking account, then send payment to various suppliers on behalf of this company. I can forward the email if that would be helpful.

A: Sounds like a scam based upon what you say. Legitmate employers will always pay you to perform work, not the other way around. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You may try contacting the Better Business Bureau, and the Tribune directly to see if this 'ad' is in violation of their terms of service.
posted by South Bend Police Department @ 10:40 AM  
Troubling Neighbors
Q: I live in River Park area and recently a new neighbor has moved in. Since they have moved in there have been several calls made for domestic distrubances and noise issues and I was wonder if I should file a report in case I run into dealings with them on my property? They are vaguely aware that I may be the neighbor calling in the complaints and living alone worries me. What is my best way to handle this. I am not comfortable talking with them since they are aware I live alone and have already made comments regarding me, after police have left and ask them to quiet down.

A: I would suggest you continue to contact police when noise issues or disturbances are taking place so a unit can contact them and attempt to resolve the situation. If there is an issue with your neighbors being unwanted on your property then call police as well. We cannot file "preemptive" reports since in many cases no actual crime is taking place. When police sent on a call for service, every call is recorded in our CAD (computer aidned dispatch) database by address, and this data is also looked at- given calls for service to a location over a period of time- to determine if an address is becoming a nuisance over a given period of time.

When you call in a complaint on a neighbor, you do not need to reveal your exact location to the calltaker, however this is helpful too, since often the officer may wish to speak to the complainant for more information, or to advise the outcome of the call. We realize neighbors do not wish to reveal their identity, but if you wish for the officer responding to speak with you, simply specify that to the caller and perhaps the officer can give you more options to your situation.
posted by South Bend Police Department @ 10:32 AM  
Monday, June 04, 2007
"Prison" calls-- warning!
Q: I am curious as to why I keep getting calls from what my Caller ID has displayed as "Prison". The number is always different, but all have 574 area codes. I have been getting them the last couple of weeks. Is it a scam, and how did they get my unpublished phone number? Just curious as I stated. I also wondered if it was happening to anyone else. Thank you for your time!

A: I consulted a well known Jail Sergeant on this one and I found out that the calls you are receiveing are typically coming from the St Joseph County Jail. What happens typically is that inmates are allowed to make phone calls out, however many times, inmates are in fact dialing random numbers hoping someone will answer. Then, the inmate will claim they need your help, usually to assist them in a three way call, which you are billed for at a hefty price. best thing to do when you see 'prison' come up is to ignore the call. Once you answer, your number then is passed around to other inmates knowing that you will help them too. Do not answer if this happens!

Also, if the calls persist, you can contact the county jail and your number can bve placed on a block. Legitimate calls from the county jail on the administration lines will show up as "St Joseph County". Avoid the "prison" or "jail" calls!

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posted by South Bend Police Department @ 8:54 PM  
Fireworks Use?
Q: If I am lighting fireworks during the designated hours, especially on a holiday when lighting fireworks is common, If a neighbor a few houses down comes and tells me to stop, am I required by law to stop? Would I get in trouble if authorities were called to my
house in this situation? Thanks!

A: Not sure if you are aware, but the fireworks laws have changed slightly again. Under the bill Gov. Mitch Daniels signed May 8, local governments can regulate when fireworks are legal. City and town councils can outlaw their usage on all but 13 "holy days," when the statute mandates specific hours fireworks must be legal.

Those are: Between 5 p.m. and two hours after sunset on June 29, 30, and July 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9; from 10 a.m. to midnight on July 4; and between the hours of 10 a.m. and midnight on Dec. 31 and midnight and 1 a.m. on Jan. 1.

So outside of these hours and times, fireworks would typically be considered to be a violation of the city "unreasonable noise" ordinance (13-57) that can result in a fine for violations of the ordiance, fireworks included, if officers are called to investigate.

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posted by South Bend Police Department @ 8:33 PM  
Meeting Online Friends In Person
A family member is planning a trip to California to meet a man she met on the Internet, and she plans to take her two small children with her. This trip is planned for June. Many in the family are not comfortable with this arrangement. I was able to get the man's name and other information. I am wondering can SBPD do a background check to ensure us that he does not have a criminal record. We would not expect the specifics of the search to be made to us, but we just want to be assured that the children will not fall victim to some maniac.

A: Adults planning to meet an online acquaintance in person for the first time should consider taking a few precautions:

* Meet in a public place, in a well-known location and at a time when many people will be in the area. It is a good idea to meet as part of a group first.
* Consider doing a quick online search of the person's name so you have some background on that person.
* If possible, try to verify factual information.
* Remember that photographs sent over the Internet could be modified or be a photograph of someone else.
* If you feel uncomfortable with the person, trust your intuition and choose not to continue the relationship.

With that said, we do not perform background checks for this kind of service, however I do encourage you or anyone else meeting someone off the internet to verify the information you are getting and do some internet research about the person you are trying to meet, in addition to following the advice above!
posted by South Bend Police Department @ 8:27 PM  
Sev Stickers
Q: I have seen the Superman symbols with Scott Severns badge number on some of the squad cars, I was wondering if there was somewhere you could buy those or if you needed to have them made special? Thanks so much for all you guys do.

A: The "Sev" Superman stickers, as well as Nick's "Jack-Nine" stickers on SBPD cars were designed in house by an officer, and offered to officers as a tribute to be displayed on the cars. These were not offered to the general public. Thanks for your support!

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posted by South Bend Police Department @ 8:24 PM  
Cannot Get DVDs Back
Q: I have a question about a situation. While attending Holy Cross I lent someone DVDs and they said that they would send it to me, but I heard that they sold my own movies for cash. I asked for them back several times but refuses to give them back. Can
you do anything about it, or did I just waste 50 dollars?


A: Either you just wasted 50 dollars (life lesson?) or else you can possibly file a small claims suit in local court to attempt to recoup the loss, if you have documentation of the property and circumstances.

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posted by South Bend Police Department @ 8:22 PM  
Vehicles Registered to Another County
Q: Hello. I have observed a person who has owned a home in the Lydick area for over 7 years who has a LaPorte County license plate on his car. I am assuming he did this through his mother who lives in LaPorte County, and doing this for insurance purposes to get a
lower multiple vehicle rate. Is this unlawful or just unethical?

A: Without knowing your neighbor's circumstances it is difficult to determine if it is legitimate or not. Indiana Code 9-24-13-4 requires a licensee to immediately notify the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, in writing, of a change of address. The BMV recommends having both your driver license and your registration amended at your local license branch within 60 days of moving. Hoosiers moving to a new residence do not have to amend their driver license, but do need to notify the BMV, in writing, of their new address. Motorists should include their old address, driver license number, Social Security Number and new address.

New Indiana residents must obtain an Indiana driver license, title and vehicle registration within 60 days of establishing residency.

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posted by South Bend Police Department @ 8:18 PM  
Weapons Carry on Hunting Permit?
Q: I recently applied for a concealed weapons permit, but I marked the Hunting, Target Practice Box instead of the Personal Protection box on the application, What is the difference, can I still carry a gun on my person, and if not how to I go about changing it to personal protection?

A: No. Carrying a firearm without the correct information is a violation of the CCW law, and will likely result in your arrest, weapon confiscation, and possibly permanent revocation of the permit to carry ability. Contact the Indiana State Police for more information on what is needed to correct this.

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posted by South Bend Police Department @ 8:14 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.

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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!


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