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Officer Features :: Black History Month

February 06, 2007 by Teri Lanning

Page 1 of 4

In observance of Black History Month we will take a look at some featured SBPD officers and thier functions at the South Bend Police Department!

Capt. John Williams
Sworn in- 1973
Public Information Officer/ Community Outreach Coordinator
Community Relations Division

"It was a lot of work but it was a ball- We caught more burglars that week that probably the whole year!"

Capt. Williams recalled the Blizzard of 1978 as one of the highlights of his career. And with his trademark laugh and sense of humor told a number of tales as to how the police, fire and city departments came together under extremely adverse conditions to continue to serve and protect the citizens of South Bend. Another gratifying experience came less than ten years ago when scores of law enforcement officers worked together with community volunteers to find a lost young girl (Gabby Cox). "Finding that little girl alive in that cornfield was really something-she was blessed. She came out of that suffering just a little hypothermia and it was really cold that night. I think because the corn took in the heat from the day it saved her, and we found her in time," he said.

That was also one of his first and biggest PIO assignments. "It shows how working with the media can help us get our job done. We set up a Command Post out there and I went live on Fox News at 9:00 p.m. and asked for volunteers; and people came out in numbers to help," he remembered.

As for inspiration, the best week in his career came when the International Special Olympics were held at Notre Dame, and he was chosen to assist. The rewards from the people made him feel rich. And he joked and said it was in contrast to where he was in his life when he joined the department. "I took a pay cut from the factory (AM General) to become a police officer; it was never as much about the money as job security. In law enforcement, there's slim to none chance of layoffs," he grinned. "And my big brother, I have to say he was a driving force in me coming on, and I have found great opportunities with putting away the bad guys but also meeting many good people along the way," added Capt. Williams.


Lieutenant John Collins
Sworn in- 1982
Investigator Office of Professional Standards Chief of Police's Office

"I felt law enforcement was one way to give back to the community that gave the same things to me." Lt. Collins said he comes from a long legacy of community helpers and becoming a police officer was almost a natural choice for his career, because of the nature of the job is to serve and protect."My mom was an activist and always teaching and helping people; with her guiding inspiration I can teach and help people by being a police officer," he smiled.


Sergeant Marian Nicks-Walker
Sworn in- 1980
Juvenile Investigator Investigative Division

"I have no regrets and how many people can say that after 26 years?"

After eight years of working at the Indiana State Prison as an officer, Sgt. Walker decided to move back home and go the step further to pursue a career with the South Bend Police Department. However recalling that the decision "did take her a few years" until she made the move, she smiled and said she has no regrets.

While working in both uniform and as a detective, as well as a Field Training Officer, Sgt. Walker said, "Working with kids as an investigator has been my niche for the past 16 plus years. The highlight of my career was the investigation of a shooting of a teenage girl walking home from school." She went on to say that very shooting led to the two-year investigation with the FBI which led to the indictments of several known gang members. "That was Dawg Life and we brought them down in the mid-nineties- so gratifying to put out such effort and put them behind bars," said Sgt. Walker.


Corporal Anthony Pearson
Sworn in- 2003 Gang Unit Investigator Uniform Division

"Instead of talking about it- making a change- I take an active role."


Cpl. Pearson recalled some of his years working in Corrections and the views of many that were incarcerated there-including gang members. Having access to those inside perspectives led him to wanting to make a difference on the outside. Considering a career in law enforcement was one way to bring about changes for the better. " set goals and then work to attain them. After I was sworn in as an SBPD officer, I sought additional training and set my sights on some specific operatives within the department. Two of those high points so far are becoming one of the first (Black) Defensive Tactics Instructors and also getting into the regenerated Gang Unit. I want to a be a trailblazer."

Cpl. Pearson said of the Gang Unit that "its about (us) setting up good groundwork and following through on it- building on it and hopefully keeping the Unit intact for the future. We plan to be more visible and accessible to the public in a positive manner." And being a DT instructor not only plays nicely with his professional goals, but also his personal goal to be in optimum condition. "Preparing officers in basic survival skills really goes beyond the basics; it could be a matter of life and death in protecting ourselves or each other," he shared.



Civilian Donna Stevens

Joined in 1993
Secretary Investigative Division

"I thought this might be a great opportunity to work with people in need of help."


Service with a smile for the Detective Bureau is Donna Steven's demeanor that is much appreciated by police officers and the public alike. She said she first saw an ad in the newspaper for Front Desk Personnel for the South Bend Police Department, applied and was hired. And being that she was looking for an opportunity to help people, the goals of the police department "to protect and serve" are keeping her busy on a daily basis. Her days can span anywhere from answering questions on the phone, directing people to appointments with investigators to tracking 44 division officers' comings and goings.

But one of the most enjoyable aspects of many responsibilities is her work in the Pawn Shop Detail, assisting Investigator Scott Bryant and entering most of the Pawn Shop Data for tracking. She explained, "When I get a hit on a pawn item that had been stolen from a victim in a burglary or larceny it makes me feel all the time and effort I put into the pawn shop detail is worth it. I really enjoy this!"

Donna grinned and continued, "There are some really weird things that turn up though...like teeth! It was scary to think about that; I asked Scott to look into it. I mean, would we be looking for bodies next? What was this person doing? Well, it ended up making sense when we found it was a retired dentist that explained more people than you might think never come get their teeth; and gold and silver fillings are quite valuable." Case solved-and it's on to the next.

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