New Elkhart Police Chief looks to enhance trust, diversity

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ELKHART, Ind. Over the last few months, the Elkhart police Department has been in the news for a litany of reasons, from officer misconduct, to the resignation of the department’s. top man.

But the department is hoping to learn while moving forward. They took a major step earlier this week by swearing new chief of police, Chris Snyder.

“I really have to go back and thank my previous supervisors in the administration,” Chief Snyder told NewsCenter 16’s Joshua Short on 16 Morning News. “They really did a good job giving me the skills that I need.”

The new chief was tight-lipped on his plans for the next year, but noted he has a lot of work ahead while under Mayor Tim Neese’s administration.

“It’s going to take time…we’ve got a lot to work to do but we are working through,” he said entering his third day in his new position. Chief Snyder also mentioned moving around officers to different positions and interacting more with the community “in a positive light” as top priorities.

Also included in Chief Snyder’s priorities is hiring more officers.
“We’re short officers and we’ve been short officers for years,” he said. “We’re doing some interviews…so that we can do everything…our hopes are by springtime to be fully staffed and have our officers trained and be out there.”

Becoming Elkhart’s newest Chief of Police succeeded controversy around a video showing Elkhart officers punching a handcuffed man. Chief Snyder understands there’s a lot of work when it comes to his department gaining trust from the community.

“Officers are going to make mistakes and we accept that, but the big thing is they are going to be held accountable for those mistakes,” said the Chief. He added: “We’re going to do everything we can in that year to make the community and the police department a better place. Starting with evaluations, being out and active and involved with the community.”

As of Nov. 30, 2018, the Elkhart Police Department had 137 police officers. Of these, 123 were males and 14 were female. An enhanced breakdown of these numbers obtained by NewsCenter 16 from the department is shown below this article.

“We have and will continue our recruiting efforts through social media, releases, community events and Job fairs,” said Chief Snyder when asked how he hopes to enhance the diversity in his department. “All applicants are tested equally and must pass each phase of the process. This is to ensure we are hiring the most qualified officers.”