SB police tapes trial wraps up

A two day trial on the legal status of the South Bend Police tapes wrapped up this afternoon in U.S. District Court in South Bend.

“I think the community wants to know what’s on the tapes, and I think, for a lot of reasons,” attorney Spence Walton told NewsCenter 16 outside the courthouse. “Not from anything that has been said but because of the reasons that two people were fired or demoted. People want to know why that happened and the reasons at that time had to do with the tapes.”

The tapes of recorded phone calls made by top administrators in the police department were used to demote former Chief of Police Darryl Boykins and Communications Director Karen DePaepe.

The last day of the trial marked the first chance for former Division Chief Steve Richmond to tell his side of the story publicly.

Richmond said that when it came to recording his phone line, he often did it himself with a microphone and a cassette recorder he purchased himself.

Until the tapes scandal broke, Richmond didn’t have a clue the department could do it for him, yet the revelation reduced the former Investigative Division Chief into a “back stabber” in the eyes of former Chief Darryl Boykins.

“You remember both of the officers said that when Boykins sat down with them he was going to take three or four weeks and decide whether he was going to demote or fire,” said attorney Dan Pfeifer who represents Richmond and other officers.

Testimony indicates that Boykins felt the officers were “back stabbers” and that he planned to air some dirty laundry in a few weeks, before he called the officers back for possible disciplinary action.

“First of all, Chief Boykins denied that ever happened,” responded attorney Spence Walton. “If you know Chief Boykins, I think it kind of defies logic.”

It was argued in court that former Captain Brian Young had his line tapped by mistake when he switched offices after a promotion, and that it wasn’t a fair or legal way to do business.

“What the red herring is, is that they focus on the person being recorded as opposed to the information that’s coming into the department from the outside that’s being captured by the system,” said Spence Walton.

Walton did find a policy that every officer has to read and sign that warns officers they have no expectation of privacy with “assigned equipment.”

“What the term assigned equipment means in the duty manual, it has nothing to do with the telephone sitting on your desk or the telephone line, running in your office, it’s the kind of things you give a cop in order for him to do his job,” said Ed Sullivan who represents the City of South Bend. “His badge, his firearm, the ammunition.”

Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen set aside the next 49 days for the attorneys to pass paperwork before he will begin his decision making process.

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