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Vote expected on police review board bill

Published: Sep. 28, 2020 at 5:24 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - The future of policing the police in South Bend will again be a topic of discussion at tonight’s city council meeting.

Members are being asked to form a Community Police Review Board to help deal with alleged incidents of officer misconduct.

The ordinance was first introduced in March. Much public input has since been gathered and some tweaks have been made.

One co-sponsor says he’s confident that a final vote will come tonight.

“We have to give people hope. There’s been too many things that’s went on in this community that lets people know that they either don’t matter or things are going bad. We have to put ourselves in a position where we’re giving people an opportunity to participate in local government,” said South Bend Second District Councilman Henry Davis Jr.

Under the terms of the ordinance a nine member board would be made up entirely of citizens appointed by the city council. Sworn law enforcement would not be represented.

A Community Police Review Office would be established and a director would be hired by the mayor. The director could contract with investigators, consultants and attorneys.

In dealing with specific complaints of police misconduct, the board could do its own investigation, conduct an informal administrative hearing, or use a mediator to resolve a complaint.

While the board’s recommendations on discipline would not be binding, perhaps they would not be meaningless.

“Accountability, not only is it about the accountability but this is also about ensuring transparency in the process of police reform and accountability as well,” Davis said. “It gives the community a voice. It also gives us a way of communicating with, not only the 14th floor, which is the administration, but also with the public about how we go about working with our law enforcement community.”

A spokesman for Black Lives Matter said the group backs the ordinance as is, but would like to see one additional change.

As it stands, the mayor would appoint the director of the citizen review office. The group feels that would make it hard for the director to be truly independent.

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