Buttigieg Defends Crime Rate as Mayor of South Bend

Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg defended his record as mayor of South Bend, Indiana — particularly the city’s crime rate during his term — in a Fox News interview Sunday.

Program host Chris Wallace noted that South Bend had attracted more than $800 million in private investment since Buttigieg took office in 2012, acknowledging that the two-term Democratic mayor deserved credit for job creation, urban revitalization, and improved infrastructure. Wallace, however, went on to state that the picture was not completely rosy.

“Critics point out the violent crime rate in South Bend went up to last year and you had a continuing problem with homelessness, and — I checked it out yesterday — the unemployment rate of South Bend is higher than the unemployment rate for the state of Indiana as a whole.”

“It is true that have not personally resolved the problem of violence,” Buttigieg conceded. But, he said, homicides had declined from twenty or more when he was a child to nine last year. That, he said, had to count as progress in a city with a population of approximately 100,000.

Wallace pushed back, saying that the numbers over decades had improved, but had begun to rise again since Buttigieg took office. “If you look at your term as mayor it had gone up until last year,” he said.

Buttigieg countered that the numbers had fluctuated under his administration, not gone up. “It was up and down from year to year if you look at something like the homicide rate,” he said.

South Bend last had twenty homicides in 2002, but only six and nine in the two years before Buttigieg won election. Three of the next five years had seventeen on more.

In a 2018 editorial, Buttigieg was more straightforward. Writing in the South Bend Tribune, he acknowledged the city’s rise in gun violence. “While our homicide rate remains well below its 1990s levels, this increase is cause for major concern,” he wrote.

Speaking with Wallace Sunday, Buttigieg gave the city’s situation a positive spin. “I am proud about everything that we have done as a community to come together, by the way, a low income community,” he said. “Our per capita personal income just went over $20,000 a year. So yeah, we have challenges with economic growth. We have challenges with crime, we have challenges with homelessness, but the way our community has risen to meet those challenges is something I’m very proud of.”

Buttigieg, a Navy veteran, previously ran unsuccessfully for Democratic National Committee chair in 2017. He hopes to secure the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.