FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Some people are at least partially blaming the riots in Ferguson on mistrust between the police and community.
Fort Wayne has had its own issues with people not coming to the police and sharing information to help solve crimes, but over the last year, the rate of violent crime in Fort Wayne has dropped 12 percent, according to the Fort Wayne Police Department.
Some community members and police officers said that’s because the police-community relationship is improving. Police said after a violent 2013, they’ve gotten a lot more community help with solving crimes this year. Some people on the Southeast side of town said there is still some fear when it comes to police, but they have seen an improvement in the Department over the last year that has built up a level of comfort between the police and community.
“I’ve seen more cars and police officers’ faces that I’ve ever seen before,” a neighbor, Matt Fuller said.
A Southeast neighborhood association along with Bridge of Grace Ministries is being proactive in making police presence known on their blocks. Pastor Javier Mondragon, the president of Bridge of Grace Compassionate Ministries Center, said he invites police officers to the neighborhood association meetings.
“I think that builds trust, as you get to know them more personally,” Mondragon said. “They’re present there. They talk about what they do, and I think that makes a difference.”
Mondragon said he has seen a positive response from those initiatives. He said the officers share crime reports with the residents and push for neighbors to help each other and report suspicious activities.
“I would give credit also to the people who were tired of last year and wanted to see something done…so I can see that it really has changed,” Mondragon said.
He said Fort Wayne is on the path to improving, and communities like Ferguson can follow its lead, but it won’t happen immediately.
“It takes time,” Mondragon said. “It takes trust. It takes effort, but, if we continue to be persistent and continue that consistency, we can be a better Fort Wayne.”
There were some people in the community who said they did not think police relationships were improving. However, they did admit they had seen more police presence, recently.