A HISTORY OF THE SOUTH BEND POLICE DEPT 1831 - 1986,
by Rev. F. Thomas Lallak
A history of a police department must parallel that history of the City where it preserves the public order, protects property and safely keeps the good manners of the people. If it is going to be a good department, it must grow and progress as the City grows and progresses. From a few men at the birth of our City, the police department has grown and progressed into a noteworthy department which the people of South Bend should be proud of.
When the City of South Bend was plotted by Alexis Coquillard and Colonel Lathrop M. Taylor on March 28, 1831, there were about 128 people living in the area. With this many people, there was a need for a protective agency and so, in that same year, this agency was formed with Benjamin Potter and Thomas Skiles as the first constables. The town government faltered during those first years and in 1844, it was reorganized along with the protective agency. The "Constables" became known as "Marshals".
John Hoopers was appointed the first town marshal, and this office became an elected office until 1893. As the town grew, so did the need for City government and finally, in 1865, the town was incorporated as the City of South Bend. Daniel Roof became the first marshal of the City of South Bend. He had one assistant but by 1886, as the City grew, so did the department to a total of 13 men.
In 1893, the Indiana General Assembly passed a statute for all cities to organize a police force to be headed by a Superintendent of Police, and thus South Bend came under the operation of the Metropolitan Law. The office of marshal was abrogated and a metropolitan police force was organized with Benjamin H. Rose appointed as the first superintendent by the Board of Police Commissioners. The Board of Police Commissioners was abolished in 1900, and the Board of Public Safety was established with jurisdiction over the police department. It was during this same year that the title "Superintendent" was changed to "Chief of Police."
In 1903, the department officially became the South Bend Police Department instead of being known as the "metropolitan police," and this had been the official title until it was changed in 1973 to "Bureau of Police" when the office of Public Safety Director was created. Over the years, the City has grown and so has the department to an all time high of 264 officers in 1974. The department is one of the finest in the nation, made up of men and women who are dedicated to law enforcement and truly professional people who are interested in their community. Because of this and other factors, the efficiency of the department has increased over the years. One of these important factors is mobility.
In the early years, the men patrolled the streets on foot but, in 1893, a horse-drawn wagon was introduced for patrol, slow and fast runs, and as an ambulance. By 1910, motor-driven vehicles were purchased to patrol the outlying districts and to supplement the mounted patrol and bicycle squad. By 1920, motorcycles were in use and in 1922 new automobiles were needed. In 1924, the first mounted unit was created and finally, in 1926, the whole City was patrolled by walking beats and automobiles known as the "Flivver Squad." Another factor in efficiency was the advancement of communications. When the City was small in the early days, it was relatively easy for the officers to come back to headquarters often for messages or someone would be sent to find the officers to give them messages, but this did not last long.
In 1910, a system of call boxes was installed through the City with a red light on top of the pole which would light up when the beat officer was needed. This system also served the purpose of letting the officer pull the boxes to let headquarters know that he was all right Later on, with the use of motorcycles, officers known as "minute men" stayed around headquarters and were sent out with urgent messages for particular officers. This still did not solve the problem and when the radio systems were successful in other cities, it was decided to try this system. So, in 1934, after much debate, WPGN went on the air as a one-way system with the transmitter in the alarm station and receivers in the cars.
In 1940, the two-way radio system was introduced and the transmitter was moved to headquarters. As the system became more sophisticated and more cities started to use the radio, it was felt that larger cities would change from AM to FM frequencies and so this was done here in 1947 and in 1950, and the signal was changed to KSA-866.
Special police phones were installed throughout the City in 1960 to replace the old "gamewell" system and the officers walking the downtown area were given portable radios. Finally, in 1973, the FM system was replaced by a UHF frequency and the use of portable radios with chargers in the cars was installed.
Training is another factor in efficiency. The early officers received no formal training and were put on the street immediately after appointment to the department. In 1922, formal training was introduced but it was not a standard procedure until after 1939 when the police academy was instituted. It was during this year that all officers were required to take a refresher course and finally, in 1944, all new appointees were required to attend the academy for ten (10) weeks before beginning street duty.
Other factors which have improved efficiency have been the introduction of new divisions and new procedures such as women officers in 1914; the daily bulletin in 1930; accident cars in 1937; Records Division, along with a new reporting system in 1939; three-wheel motorcycles in 1939; crime lab in 1943; crossing guards in 1947; use of radar in 1951; Juvenile Aid Bureau in 1952; also that same year the Vice Squad and the Intelligence Squad came into existence; roving ambulance in 1953; scuba team in 1955; saturation force, also known as task force, in 1960; K-9 Corps in 1961; Fire Department took over ambulance service in 1966; new headquarters in 1967; Community Relations Division in 1967; new patrol system in 1968; School-Liaison Program in 1970; Felony Squad in 1972; mobile crime lab in 1973; new vice unit and Internal Affairs unit in 1974; the purchase of personal body armor for officers in 1977; the institution of the Managing Criminal Investigations (MCI) reporting system in 1979; the institution of the Community Orientated Policing (COP) Program in 1981; the purchase of stainless steel 2-1/2 inch sidearms for police officers in 1982; participation in the Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASP) to combat drunk drivers in 1983; the computerization of police records and management in 1983; closing of the City Jail in 1984 to free manpower for other duties; the activation of a new police and fire combined dispatch center in 1984; adoption and implementation of formal Police Department Promotion Procedures in 1984; the civilization of several positions traditionally staffed by sworn officers in 1986; activation of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) Program in 1989; production of the Kid=s Adventure one television show in 1990; reactivation of the Police Motorcycle Patrols in 1990; activation of Neighborhood Enforcement Service Team (N.E.S.T.) In 1990; reactivation of the Juvenile Aid Bureau in 1990;
In the past 20 years, advancements include activation of Police Bicycle Patrols in 1990; creation of the Indiana River Rescue Unit and the Indiana River Rescue School in 1991; assignment of personnel to the Special Cimres Unit in 1992; expansion of the South Bend Area Crime Stoppers Program to include eight counties in Indiana and four counties in Michigan in 1993; increase the number of sworn personnel from 230 in 1988 to 252 by 1994; upgrade of police sidearms to semi-automatic handguns in 1995; purchase of state-ofthe- art Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) vehicle and bomb disposal robots in 1995; institution of the police vehicle take home program in 1997; the upgrade of police computer system and purchase of Mobile Digital Computer Terminals for police vehicles in 1997; creation of the School Resource Officer program 1997; assignment of personnel to the county-wide Family Violence Unit (now Special Victims Unit) in 1998.
In the fall of 1997, the South Bend Police Department officially began formal community oriented police training for all officers and civilian members of the Department, as well as, hundreds of community and business leaders. Training seminars presented by SAR Associates focused on community policing philosophies, the implementation process and the cohesive efforts needed between the businesses, community residents, and the police department. However, in retrospect, the efforts highlighted in the COP philosophies mirrored many actions already being offered and in partnership between Department members and the business/residential communities.
With the introduction of Community Oriented Policing, there now was an umbrella label associated with these efforts. Over the last 10-15 years, the South Bend Police Department has had one of themost extensive and viable Neighborhood Watch (over 180 groups), Business Watch Programs (40 businesses), and citizen's interactive neighborhood nuisance house ordinances in the Midwest.
Our approach to community policing is to use the language of co active efforts between all facets of our Department, all City agencies, and all segments of our community and many other innovations and improvements that cannot be noted in a thumbnail sketch such as this.
In September 1967, Father Thomas Lallak was appointed as the first Chaplain for the South Bend Police Department and was designated the Honorary rank of Cpatain. Captain Father Lallak served as Police Chaplain until his retirement in July, 1988. Captain Father Lallak passed from this world on June 22, 1993.