MPD traffic stop briefly discussed during common council meeting

Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 12:06 AM EDT
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MISHAWAKA, Ind. (WNDU) - While it was not mentioned on the Monday common council agenda, a Mishawaka resident expressed concern during Privilege of the Floor about the city’s handling of the October traffic stop involving Mayor Dave Wood’s son.

Monday marked the first Mishawaka Common Council meeting since 16 News Now obtained body camera footage that showed police pulling over then 21-year-old Joe Wood last fall for erratic driving and then noticing Wood could also be drunk.

The incident just recently came to light, and neither Mayor Wood nor Mishawaka Police Chief Ken Witkowski have been available for media interviews since 16 News Now Investigate’s Carli Luca broke the story on March 8th.

Witkowski has said the traffic stop is under administrative review, and no one has been disciplined in connection with the incident.

“I would strongly encourage this body to contemplate asking that a third party, the Indiana State Police or somebody else - not lawyers that you hire, but a credible outside agency or authority, investigate this. Because I think it’s really important that whatever happens here passes the smell test publicly,” said Brett McNeil, a Mishawaka resident.

Wood and Witkowski did not attend the Mishawaka Common Council meeting.

“It’s not uncommon for the mayor to attend these meetings, but it also is not uncommon for both the mayor and the police chief, as their duties and responsibilities otherwise call for them, not to be here. So, in fairness, I just wanted to say that,” noted Gregg Hixenbaugh, Mishawaka Common Councilman At-Large.

Hixenbaugh additionally addressed McNeil’s comment.

“I certainly can appreciate the concerns. I sense that everybody on the council can appreciate the concerns. But I’ll go on record to say that I do have faith in our police department. I have faith in their ability to be able to look at issues in an even-handed matter. So while I appreciate the concerns, I wanted that to be of record, as well,” Hixenbaugh said.

A city spokesman at the meeting said he could not offer further comment.

Nearly two weeks ago, Mayor Wood’s office issued a statement, saying the mayor’s expectation is that everyone be treated fairly under the law, and that he did not find out about the traffic stop until after the fact.

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