South Bend mayor asks feds to weigh in on tapes

By: Barbara Harrington Email
By: Barbara Harrington Email

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is asking the feds to step in and decide whether controversial police recordings can be released.
Buttigieg filed paperwork Thursday asking a federal court to decide whether releasing the recordings would violate federal law.

“They're in the best position to either give us the green light to forward the materials requested in this subpoena or explain why we cannot,” Buttigieg said. “This is the best way we have to balance the requests of all the parties involved. To make sure we're being responsive as we can.”

From the beginning of the police tapes scandal, Buttigieg said listening to the tapes would violate the Federal Wiretapping Act.

His response comes about three weeks after the South Bend Common Council filed a subpoena for the tapes to be released.

“That has put the city between a rock and a hard place,” Buttigieg said. “We do not want to be unresponsive to the council, but I also took an oath to comply with all laws. And I'm getting legal advice that there's a risk of putting myself, the administration and perhaps the council in legal jeopardy if we turn these tapes over without a court order or some type of declaration.”

But council member Henry Davis, Jr. says Buttigieg should have taken action months ago.

“The mayor has been consistently delaying action,” Davis, Jr. said. “The mayor's in no position to protect the council, the integrity of the city, his job is to be the chief executive officer of the city of South Bend and since he wants to delay the council's actions, we're going to have to see him in court.”

It’s unclear how long it will take for the feds to respond to Buttigieg’s request.

He says the city received a box from the Department of Justice this week, which he believes contains the tapes.

The box hasn’t been opened and is being kept in a safe deposit box.

If Buttigieg doesn’t agree to comply with the council’s subpoena, a judge will decide if the tapes can be released in circuit court.

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