Some have been quick to criticize a $575,000 deal announced by the City of South Bend yesterday.
An out of court settlement will have the city paying more than a half million dollars to six plaintiffs who sued over wiretapping at the police department.
On one hand, the city administration has staunchly refused to listen to tapes of recorded phone conversations from the South Bend Police Department for fear that the recordings were made illegally.
On the other hand, the city has agreed to pay $575,000 in settlement fees to the main players in the wiretapping scandal.
“Well, the disadvantage is you’ve paid out in excess of a half a million dollars without understanding what is going on, who is on the tapes, and what was said on the tapes,” said South Bend Second District Councilman, Henry Davis, Jr.
“So now you have the city paying Chief Boykins, who they fired for violating federal law, that’s incomprehensible,” said Community Activist Mario Sims.
It appears that very few people have ever listened to the tapes but those who have spoke to federal investigators about concerns over content.
Sims says he obtained a copy of that report through the Freedom of Information Act. “Why would you pay a $500,000 for recordings that you claim you’ve never heard but the allegation made is there’s criminal conduct on them. Certainly anyone would be interested before you fork over $500,000 that someone isn’t talking about murdering someone on these tapes,” said Sims.
Sims claims that one of the officers involved in the settlement was not involved in the taped phone calls.
South Bend’s Corporation Counsel, Cristal Brisco today issued written statement saying that “the settlements do not contain a finding about who was or was not allegedly wiretapped,” and that the settlements are about reducing legal costs and exposure to the city.
Sixth District Councilman Oliver Davis issued a written statement about his concerns with the timing of the settlement announcement. “From my view, ultimately, the decision of whether or not the settlement that was announced on yesterday by the City of South Bend’s Administration was a good investment for the City of South Bend will be determined by a thorough review of the tapes, if the federal judge determines that they can be released.”