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Further Changes Suggested For South Bend's Police Use Of Force Policy

South Bend Police Department

When the City of South Bend passed a new Police Use of Force policy back in February, it was on the condition that it would be updated regularly. The Board of Public Safety received a second round of those updates at its meeting on Wednesday.


Local activist groups have been collaborating with the mayor’s office and police department to strengthen the language around when and how officers can use deadly force.


The most recent changes clarify that officers should use “the minimum amount of force necessary” to subvert a threat. It also specifies that a suspect must be “aiming” a weapon at officers to justify a use of force, rather than simply “pointing” one. 


Local Faith in Indiana leader Alfred Guillaume said the current policy is a “significant improvement” over former versions; however, he said the group still wants to see a more specific definition of what would constitute an “imminent threat” to officers.


“It would take much more detail as well as counter-examples to be clear on what is and isn’t an imminent threat,” Guillaume said.


Board members didn’t take action on the revised policy on Wednesday, saying they’d like to review the changes and seek community feedback before voting. 


Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski said officers will be able to view both the approved policy and the proposed changes side-by-side in the police department's software.


CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misspelled Andre Guillaume's name as "Guillame." It also suggested local Faith in Indiana leaders are requesting more examples of what constitues an "imminent threat" to officers, when they are requesting an entirely different definition. The article has since been corrected.


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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