South Side Meeting Draws 200+ Concerned Citizens

By John W. Davis

July 29, 2010 Updated Jul 29, 2010 at 10:50 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Community leaders say crime is down 25% over the past ten years and that they are working hard to attract new businesses on Fort Wayne's South Side.

About 250 concerned citizens attended Thursday night's south side
meeting at the Public Safety Academy of Northeast Indiana.

The get-together was hosted by the Southtown Area Advisory Board that was commissioned in November 2009 by Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry.

Board members say they have meet for an hour every week since December 2009, aiming to usher in a major business development initiative on Fort Wayne's south side.

One of the highlights on Thursday's meeting was a crime statistics report given by Fort Wayne Deputy Police Chief Nancy Chamberlin.

She shared declining crime data, that drew a thunderous round of applause from an auditorium full of citizens and local politicians.

Chamberlin said crime in southeast Fort Wayne is down 25% over the past ten years.

She also pointed out that business break-ins are down 52% over the past 10 years.

She noted that crime has decreased 86% at the Eden Green Apartments since 1998.

She shared that gun violence was down in 2009. 107 fewer shots were fired in 2009.

Chamberlin also noted that in 2009 Fort Wayne experienced two fewer fatal shootings than 2008 and that 282 firearms were taken off city streets.

Chamberlin noted community tips leading to arrests were up and that six more drug houses were shutdown in 2009 compared to 2008.

Chamberlin also said the Fort Wayne Police Department is working with the ATF to convict criminals on federal firearms and drug charges.

She said 13 people with spend at minimum 85% of their sentence behind bars because of those federal charges.

Meanwhile, Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry called the South Side, Fort Wayne's "jewel."

However, Henry said community members need to convince people that the South Side is a good place to do business.

Other community leaders readily admit there is a stigma about opening a business in the African-American community, even though money talks.

The southeast quadrant has the second highest disposable income out of the four quadrants here in Allen County," said Southtown Area Advisory Board Member Charles Hire.

"That's the first incentive to businesses. The second one is, where do you think the African-American community does spend their money? You think they don't spend money. They obviously have to travel to the other three quadrants to spend their money. From grocery stores, to food, to clothing, to cars, everything. They need products, we all use products as humans," said Hire.

Meanwhile, the Southtown Area Advisory Committee is inviting the public to all future meetings.

The committee meets every Thursday from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the Public Safety Academy of Northeast Indiana.

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