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South Bend Proposes Changes To Police Use Of Force Policy

Screenshot captured via Microsoft Teams

When the Board of Public Safety passed the final version of the Use of Force policy back in February, many community groups were still calling for stronger and more specific language around the use of deadly force. 

South Bend Mayor James Mueller presented the first of those changes at the Board of Public Safety meeting on Wednesday. He said after several meetings with community leaders, the document now has a new definition and set of examples for the term “imminent threat,” as well as for “feasible” and “proportional” force. 


“We’ve had a lot of conversations with folks and I’d love to say that everyone is 100 percent on board, but I can’t say that this morning," Mueller said. "But I think it’s close, if not there.”


During the public comment portion of the meeting, a South Bend police officer raised concerns that officers and their supervisors weren’t being trained on the new policy. 


Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski said any claims of inadequate training raise “grave concerns” for the department, and said he would “deal with them accordingly.”


The comments drew backlash from Black Lives Matter – South Bend, whose leaders called for a meeting with Mayor Mueller before the next Board of Public Safety meeting.


Board members asked for more time to review the new changes, but plan to vote on the revised Use of Force policy next month. 


CORRECTION: A previous version of this story said the new Use of Force Policy was passed in January. It has been corrected to say "February."


Contact Gemma atgdicarlo@wvpe.orgor follow her on Twitter at@gemma_dicarlo.


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Gemma DiCarlo came to Indiana by way of Athens, Georgia. She graduated from the University of Georgia in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and certificates in New Media and Sustainability. She has radio experience from her time as associate producer of Athens News Matters, the flagship public affairs program at WUGA-FM.
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