By Colleen Ferreira (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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9:08 PM EDT, May 8, 2012
Some said it will transform the image of downtown South Bend. Others said it will dramatically improve the safety of the city.
For bikers, for coffee drinkers, or for people taking an afternoon stroll ... the addition of a police substation to heart of downtown South Bend is a weight off their shoulders.
The substation is moving in right across from the South Bend Chocolate Café on Michigan Street, taking the place of a boutique that closed down a few weeks ago.
"Anytime you have police visible, yes, that's a benefit," said Debra Walker, a South Bend resident.
"I think it’s a good idea, especially downtown, because there are lots of people that panhandle and stuff,” said Jayme Hampton, who works in the city.
It's expected to be the type of community policing the downtown area has never seen before.
"What's neat is that it’s a centralized location to deploy police officers on foot, bike, you name it," said Division Chief Gary Horvath.
Horvath said they plan to use the soon-to-be substation on Michigan Street as a launching pad to dispatch police to the East Race, the Cove, and neighborhoods adjacent to the downtown area.
"It would be a lot better to have more safety and security down here,” said mother Carly Brown from South Bend. “I'd really like that."
Before the city's Redevelopment Commission gave the unanimous go ahead, a bit of speculation surfaced. Some said this location is a high visible retail outlet the city can't afford to lose to a substation that won't bring in any money.
"If in fact we could attract another retailer there, we could ask them to relocate to another location," said redevelopment commissioner Greg Downes.
The city owns this space which once belonged to the boutique “Bombay International.”
While the city won't make a profit this substation, the police department has to reimburse the city for any costs sustained by the space.
The department will pay the commission $895.49 per month and be responsible for paying utilities at the location.
Horvath said it's the best use of resources.
"With them being down here, we'll notice them more and they'll notice us more and we'll feel a lot safer," said Kim Tagliaferri, a 1st Source employee at the main bank in downtown.
A handful of downtown businesses, Imagine That, Chickory Café and Café Navarre said the extra police presence will make customers more confident that they're shopping and dining in safe area.
The owner of the restaurant and bar, Agave 53, said he doesn't see heavy crime in the heart of downtown right now, but hopes the substation will enhance the perception of the city and diminish the fear that exists.
Horvath said it's too early to tell how many officers will work out of that location. He said it will depend on downtown special events and weekend traffic flow.
Poliec hope to move into location by the end of this month or early June.
The South Bend Tribune's Kevin Allen contributed to this story.
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