The city's Anti-Violence Commission met for the third time Wednesday to discuss the new strategy and how it would be implemented.
The approach, called the Group Violence Reduction Strategy, was developed by David Kennedy, director of the City University of New York's Center for Crime Prevention and Control. Commission members made the trip to New York to train with Kennedy.
The approach is a community effort, says South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
"It's about bringing everybody together who needs to be at the table in order to get something done," Buttigieg says. "This is not just a South Bend police issue. It's a community issue. It involves federal authorities, schools, parks and recreation, the faith community, the neighbors, the community itself."
The strategy basically calls the individuals involved with gun violence into a sit-down meeting with law enforcement officials and community members. Those who have been affected by the gun violence tell the called-in individuals directly how their actions have harmed them.
Then, those individuals are given a choice: They can put down the guns and walk away from a life of violence and reap the benefits of social services provided by the community. But the next group caught among the gun violence will face much harsher consequences.
"All of us in law enforcement and prosecution will be watching your every move, and when we can will prosecute you to the fullest extent, and you'll be held accountable," says South Bend Police Chief Ron Teachman. "So put down your guns and stop the shootings and move forward."
The first step in the approach is identifying which individuals to call in, which is happening already.
Officers are going through police record data to find which individuals are consistently involved in group violence. Those individuals will be sent a formal notice to be called in. Many of them are already on probation or parole and must attend. The others can choose whether or not to join.
Buttigieg says the strategy has seen high success in other cities.
"When you do it right, communities that have successfully applied this strategy over a long period of time have been able to see 30-, 40-percent reduction of gun violence," Buttigieg says. "That's why we think this is a promising approach for us to follow here in South Bend."
But he and Teachman made it clear law enforcement will not be slowing down.
Teachman says he wants to bring in new technology that will help target gun violence almost immediately after it happens through a program called ShotSpotter.
The program is a series of acoustic sensors that are placed in a way to record and map out gunshots within their vicinity. The data goes through a detection system to verify the sound was from a true gunshot, then it automatically sends information to the police station.
Officers can pinpoint the location of the gunshot almost exactly. Teachman says it could save both the victim and the police officer precious time.
"We'll be able to save lives with our rapid response to the calls of gunshots, That's the automated call," Teachman says. "And the officers' approach will be safer, because they'll know exactly where they're going and not just blindly riding through neighborhoods chasing a call, or calls, where gunshots have been heard."
Teachman will be making a presentation to South Bend's Board of Works Thursday morning in hopes they will invest in the technology.
The program could cost up to $60,000 per square mile every year.
Teachman says he hopes to cover a few miles at first, and then expand. He says he installed ShotSpotter in New Bedford, Mass., when he served as police chief there.
"We think it's very effective technology," Teachman says. "We'll try to bring the technology where the data tells us right now the most shots are being fired."
Teachman traveled to Chicago Wednesday night to observe a call-in meeting there.