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South Bend officials say they have a plan to tackle gang problem

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – A week after 6 people were shot outside of a bar on Marion Street, ABC57 is digging deeper into the gang problem in South Bend.

“There’s gangs on each side of town.” Captain Daniel Skibins, with the South Bend Police Department, said.

“(Vice Lords, Gangster Disciples, Latin Kings) We have people affiliated with all of the ones you mentioned. Probably the largest one in this area would be the Latin Kings.” Skibins said.

Skibins says tackling group and gang violence is the top priority for SBPD and the city. The police, along with community leaders, the mayor and prosecutors offices, have banded together for a holistic approach. It’s called Group Violence Intervention. The purpose is to help some gang members get out of the lifestyle while helping the police target the most violent criminals through community intelligence.

“Focusing on violent houses, violent people, rather than an area.” Skibins said.

The strategy has been in use for about 5 years. Skibins says it’s working despite a spike in violence last year where 102 people were shot. The average is around 85.

“That’s an outlier if you look at the last 10 years. We did not do a good job last year. So we made several adjustments so we could do better this year. So far, so good. However, we did just have 6 people shot.” He said.

“We’re trying to come from both sides. And the fundamental message is, we’ll help you if you let us. We’ll stop you if you make us.” Mayor Pete Buttigieg said.

Buttigieg started the GVI initiative shortly after he took office. He says gangs and groups are to blame for the majority of shootings.

“The bottom line is, the majority of gun violence in this city is driven by people connected to these gangs and groups, half even two-thirds.” He said.

Whenever there’s a shooting involving groups and gangs, those groups are automatically moved up the list for the GVI to target. Police have not said what gang was involved in the shooting on Marion Street. Police say the group involved can expect a lot more pressure from law enforcement.

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