South Bend’s 61st police chief is the first out-of-towner to hold that position since 1939.
Ronald Teachman was sworn in this afternoon during brief ceremonies at the Sample Street station.
“You know, change is scary and there’s going to be change, there’s no question about it,” said Mayor Pete Buttigieg, (D) South Bend. “But the right change is going to make us all better off.”
While South Bend may have its share of crime problems—odds are, Chief Teachman has seen worse.
“Well, consider this, Tajikistan is the poorest and least developed of the former Soviet Union republics,” said Chief Ronald Teachman from his new office.
Teachman spent 18 months in Central Asia training police officers there, before returning to the United States in October. “But if you can imagine we planted the seeds of community policing, in the most barren soil in the former Soviet Union with very corrupt officials and a very backward police department, that’s underpaid, and understaffed, and is, by its own admission, corrupt and brutal,” Teachman said. “And to see that seed take root was most encouraging.”
So today, a Massachusetts native who last worked a half a world away became the new chief of police in South Bend.
“Anytime you change how police chiefs have been appointed, I think there tends to be a sense of anxiety of the unknown but I think that we should give the new chief the opportunity to really indicate and do what he said he’s going to do today,” said South Bend At-Large Common Council Member Karen White.
The main thing Teachman promised to do today was to spend a lot of time listening before he leaped.
“I think he's going to challenge us to think in new ways but he's also a listener that's one of the reasons I chose him,” said Mayor Buttigieg. “He's somebody who has a strong vision but also believes that vision has to incorporate what people have to say.”
Today Chief Teachman compared himself to a doctor who first had to consult with a patient and conduct a thorough investigation before coming up with a plan to make the patient better.
“So far, he’s off to a real good start, letting guys know I’m going to listen to you, change is going to happen, but it’s not right away and whatever it’s going to be it’s going to be for the better,” said FOP Lodge 36 President Dan Demler.