Elkhart Housing Authority votes to fund return of police patrols - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Elkhart Housing Authority votes to fund return of police patrols at Washington Gardens

Washington Gardens Washington Gardens

 Late this afternoon, the Elkhart Housing Authority voted to use federal funds to bring back police patrols. The decision comes after increasing violence in the area. Particularly, a shooting police believe took place at Washington Gardens Apartments last Sunday. Today's meeting was the second of three meetings about violence in South Central Elkhart. 

Michelle Wittenburg just moved into Washington Gardens with her five year old daughter and nine year old son. She says she's worried her kids won't get outdoors enough. 

"I don't even want them on the step right here without one of us," Wittenburg said. 

Children's safety is exactly why area resident Dionel Hill went to City Council asking to bring police patrols back to the apartments. 

"Parents shouldn't be worried about if they're gonna bury their kids rather than their kids burying them," Hill said. 

There had previously been police patrols at Washington Gardens, but those stopped last year when the Housing Authority found out they could no longer use that source of federal funding, but now they've found a new pool of federal money.

"We basically found a way that we had to lower some other expenses so that we could fund this one," Dan Boecher, the Vice President of the Housing Authority's Board of Commissioners said. 

In the past, the Housing Authority would reimburse the city for the patrols. Now the officers will work directly for the Housing Authority and that's a good thing according to Commissioner Boecher who says it will improve the quality of the police presence. 

"There were instances where we did not feel that the moneys that we were spending were adding that much value to our clients," Boecher said. 

They'll be hammering out the details soon. Michelle says she knows the patrols will do the job.

"The drug activity, the gang violence and all that, they'll all start scurrying and running and hiding," Whittenburg said. 

It wasn't a unanimous decision. One Commissioner said he was all for safety, but didn't think it responsible to use federal money to pay for a solution that hasn't worked well in the past. And he says the Government made it clear to them that they didn't want funds used on patrols. 

Commissioner Boecher says the new patrols won't add to concerns in the neighborhood about tensions between officers and residents. The officers will work directly for the Housing Authority to ensure police are meeting their needs. 

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