Two men headed to jail after not showing up to Group Violence In - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Two men headed to jail after not showing up to Group Violence Intervention call-in

South Bend Police say two men who failed to show up for a mandatory recent group violence intervention "call in" are headed back to jail. That call-in about a month ago targeted 28 men with influence in the "group" or gang community.  The men were required to attend as a condition of parole.

South Bend Police Officer Lieutenant Dominic Zultanski is the operations manager of the Group Violence Intervention strategy.  He and other law enforcement and social services staff told the men who came to the meeting on May 15th, "put down the guns or else." That meeting came shortly after a two-year old was shot to death in South Bend, when rival gangs exchanged gunfire near a city park.  The number of murders in the city stood at 8, twice that of the same time the year before.      

"We've had three shootings since the call in, but none of them we could associate with group or gang activity... so that's promising. It's nice to know the message is getting out there," says Zultanski. He says since the call-in, at least 10 men have made serious life changes. One left his gang, and another is working on getting his G.E.D. "We've also had people that came to the call in who have initiated conversations with us they want us to talk to other people in their gang," says Zultanski.

Zultanski says whether these 21 men stay in or stay out of their gang, it's all about the message. "One claims he's in the gang, he's going to stay in the gang. But he understands the message of the gun violence," he says.
Zultanski says it was clear to these 28 men that they had to show up to hear the message, or they would face serious consequences. Only 21 showed up. He says seven men didn't show up to the meeting. Since then, two of those men have been reinstated to appear in front of a judge to go back to jail, and for the 5 others, their parole conditions increased.

But Zultanski says the seven have not had any police interaction since the call in that I know of that's resulted in a police report, arrest report, anything of that nature. Zultanski expects another call in within the next two to three months.

The Group Violence Intervention team is working closely with John Jay College, and relies on the book "Don't Shoot" by David Kennedy. Zultanski says they have weekly conference calls with the college to give feedback on the number of men making life changes and the number of people they're keeping a close eye on.   The program is being funded by the South Bend Community Foundation.  The price tag -- $237,000 dollars.
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