BLM and NAACP want South Bend Police out of the schools

Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 6:43 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Black Lives Matter, the South Bend Chapter of the NAACP, and community members held a press conference on Wednesday outside the South Bend Community School Corporation’s administrative building. They’re calling for an end to South Bend Police Resource Officers in South Bend public schools.

“This is a public call to school board members, district administrators to do your job, uphold the law and remove police from schools now,” Regina Williams-Preston says, she is with Black Lives Matter South Bend.

This happening a day after we reported a school official asked a South Bend Police officer to leave Coquillard Elementary School after he was walking through and checking-in on the school due to a previous threat of violence.

Now, the claim is being made that officers are not allowed in South Bend Schools in the first place.

“We understand that there is no contract between the school corporation and the South Bend Police Department or the municipality of South Bend, and that’s a violation state ordinance,” Darryl Heller says. He is the director at the IU South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center.

Those who spoke at the press conference believe the school corporation and police department are breaking the law by having police in schools. A man at in attendance was holding this sign that shows the law they say is being violated:

BLM and NAACP want police out of SB schools due to an alleged violation of the law, but police...
BLM and NAACP want police out of SB schools due to an alleged violation of the law, but police say they're not doing anything wrong.(WNDU)

It says that a contract must be in place or a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two entities in order for police to be legally allowed in schools. BLM and the NAACP believe there may not be a contract in place, or if there is one they say they haven’t seen it.

“We’ve been told that there is no contract, there is no MOU and so if there is documentation of that they need to produce it,” Williams-Preston says.

Here is the response from the South Bend Community School Corporation Superintendent Dr. Todd Cummings:

“The Corporation does have an MOU from the 2012-13 academic year, which, according to the district’s legal counsel, is considered an “indefinite MOU,” lasting until one or both parties formally end the agreement.  Chief Crittendon, Mayor Mueller and I have been in  conversation and plan to update the current MOU (which was signed several superintendents ago). We are not exploring the removal of SROs from South Bend schools at this time.  Since the number of police recruits is down, the current arrangement between the South Bend Police Department and South Bend Community School Corporation may need to be restructured. Next steps for the corporation include the launch of a community survey on the topic of SRO’s, so that we can hear directly from students, parents, teachers and other staff on the issue.”

We’ll wait and see if that document is made public. There are no plans to remove officers from schools as of the time this story was written.

The South Bend Police Department provided responses to a number of claims made by BLM and the NAACP, here is what they provided to WNDU on Wednesday:


Lately, there have been several misleading statements made about our School Resource Officers (SROs) that we feel we need to clear up.

MISLEADING STATEMENT #1: “There is no contract or MOU between SBCSC and SBPD or COSB for police in schools.”

SBPD RESPONSE TO STATEMENT #1: The last Memo of Understanding (MOU) signed was in 2012, 3-police chiefs ago. Since then, we have continued to collaborate with the South Bend School Corporation, but the MOU was not refreshed since there was a mutual understanding and expectation of the duties, obligations and training required of each School Resource Officer (SRO) and the associated costs. Currently, we have four SROs assigned to our South Bend schools. As well, collaboration is occurring between legal departments from the SBCSC and COSB.

MISLEADING STATEMENT #2: “There is no job description detailing duties and responsibilities for school resource officers.”

SBPD RESPONSE TO STATEMENT #2: This is untrue. Each SRO and applicable Principal has received and does receive a document that explains SRO duties, functions, responsibilities, and obligations. Click here to see that document:

MISLEADING STATEMENT #3: In recent years, “South Bend Schools and the City of South Bend has paid the SBPD as much as $1.5 million dollars a year for police in schools. Someone wrote a million-dollar check with no contract in place.”

SBPD RESPONSE TO STATEMENT #3: We have never received a check from the South Bend School Corporation for $1.5 Million. While we cannot give you a specific/exact number due to ordinance changes in pay, school related overtime, event(s) amount or duration, etc., we can tell you the average split-reimbursement for our SRO’s has been between $290,000-$330,000 when we had six SROs in the schools, we now have only four. The South Bend School Corporation is invoiced yearly for their half; half because the South Bend Police Department equally splits and shares the cost of having SROs in the school’s full time. For exact amounts, please contact the South Bend School Corporation.

MISLEADING STATEMENT #4: “There is no documentation that School Resource Officers (SROs) have had the 40 hours of specific training to be in schools as required by law.”

SBPD RESPONSE TO STATEMENT #4: This too is untrue. Each SRO received the required 40 hours of training, plus more. They get basic and advanced training. Also, the State School Resource Officer Association holds an annual conference that has additional training. Each year, we usually send one officer to that and that officer (or more) returns and shares the latest updates. Click here to see certificates from just some of that training:

MISLEADING STATEMENT #5: “Police have tased at least one child.”

SBPD RESPONSE TO STATEMENT #5: We are not sure what, where or why this continues to be said. We know there was an incident at Clay High School a couple years ago, but we do not have SROs in Clay because that is not our jurisdiction. We look into and address any and all specific complaints or accusations but have no way of validating or investigating an open blanket statement.

MISLEADING STATEMENT #6: “Police have handcuffed, detained, and transported kids.”

SBPD RESPONSE TO STATEMENT #6: Our objective was/is never to detain or send kids to the Juvenile Justice Center. The ONLY reason a student would ever be detained would be if they were involved in criminal activity or if we were assisting with a court ordered warrant issued for a juvenile. Please note, we say detained because juveniles, by law, are not “arrested.”

MISLEADING STATEMENT #7: “Police have interviewed kids.”

SBPD RESPONSE TO STATEMENT #7: Kids would and can only be interviewed as a suspect if we have parental consent.

MISLEADING STATEMENT #8: “Police have issued tickets.”

SBPD RESPONSE TO STATEMENT #8: When fighting and smoking started getting out of hand in schools, tickets were issued to deter these students from engaging in those activities. This practice has not been enforced for several years. This deterrence measure was not arbitrarily decided on solely by the

SBPD. MISLEADING STATEMENT #9: “There is no data or records of these interactions.”

SBPD RESPONSE TO STATEMENT #9: Anytime a juvenile is detained, information is added to the Power School database which is then released by the school corporation to the Department of Education at the end of the year. That information includes demographic information, race, reason for detainment/’arrest’, gender, etc. The only time it may not be entered is if an officer, who is not an SRO, makes an arrest. The only reason it would not be entered would be because that officer did not have access to that database like an SRO does and it was not on school property during and/or within active school hours.

FINAL STATEMENT: The South Bend Police Department has proudly served our schools for more than 35 years. Contrary to a few recent misleading statements, our objective was and is never to detain/arrest or send kids to jail. Instead, our officers taught DARE, mentored thousands of children, helped with life and career paths, created groups that help build self-esteem, coached sports, and built lasting and trusting relationships. They did all of this while helping to keep our schools safe and we will continue to do so, without hesitation, until or unless directed otherwise by the South Bend School Corporation, just like we do with businesses, churches, neighborhoods, etc. With that said, schools are part of our community and we will continue to do what we can to help them. We feel this is the proper thing as we continue to receive an overwhelming amount of feedback and support from our students, parents, and South Bend families.

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