Vote delayed on SBPD disciplinary matrix

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - It’s something that some say is long overdue in South Bend, yet it’s something that was delayed Wednesday at the request of Mayor James Mueller.

"It" is a proposed matrix designed to make sure that all men and women in blue are treated equal —that officers accused of the same kind of misconduct are given the same kind of punishment.

For instance, an officer who improperly uses force and causes injury can expect to receive a 30-day suspension for a first offense and termination for a third.

“This kind of discipline matrix, in our opinion, is long overdue, so we believe that this is a very urgent issue,” said Nicole Maclaughlin with the St. Joseph County Chapter of Faith In Indiana while addressing the South Bend Board of Public Safety. “Our members are resolute that the city must make good on its commitment to this crucial step in police accountability and in building trust in the police and the community.”

Wednesday was supposed to be the finish line for advocates of a matrix. A proposed plan was scheduled for a final vote before the safety board.

It was the last thing the Buttigieg administration tried to do to increase community trust in the department, and it was deemed by some to be among the most important.

“We would like a chance to meet further with the police administration and the city administration to more fully understand this, so thank you very much. We are very much in favor of the matrix. We want to see it move forward, but we want to see it done the right way,” South Bend Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 36 President Harvey Mills said.

The FOP didn’t call for the delay, but it supported the timeout requested by the Mueller administration.

The mmayor’s chief of staff, Kacey Gergely, read the mayor’s written statement to the board at the meeting:

“To those who are disappointed about this delay, I want to assure you that I'm committed to getting this done and getting it right. I'm hopeful and grateful for your patience.”

It’s unclear how long the delay will last but Mueller’s statement indicates he wants the matrix discussed at the Feb. 4 meeting of the Community Action Group.