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Indiana News

South Bend Community Police Review Board Taking Applications, But Activists Concerned About Director

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Zoom screenshot by Jakob Lazzaro
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88.1 WVPE

 

 

Established by the Common Council last fall, South Bend’s new Community Police Review Board is taking applications for membership. To apply, you must be a resident of South Bend and not a sworn law enforcement officer.

 

But the city hired former Indianapolis police officer Joshua Reynolds as the board’s first director last month. 

At a June 24 discussion hosted by Black Lives Matter South Bend, activist Jorden Giger criticized the selection process and said the community didn’t want police involved with the board. 

 

He also said they should have been consulted before a decision was made.

 

“In what I’ve heard him talk about related to this board, he’s mentioned on several occasions that this is about improving police-community relations,” Geiger said. “And that is not what this is about. This is about making sure that we are holding police officers accountable.”

 

In response, city clerk Dawn Jones said all final four candidates had a law enforcement background and Reynolds’ selection was approved by the common council.

 

“We had 40 applicants, and I would say 70 percent of those applicants were in law enforcement,” Jones said. “So, that’s what we had to work with.”

 

Activist Gerrie Casey said  Reynolds’ selection was a violation of the process, and the city needs to show that the board will advocate for the community.

 

“My experience with the civilian police review board in New York City was that the police simply refused to participate, and so hundreds of complaints, valid complaints, were ignored,” Casey said. “Where’s the mayor, where’s the police department, and where’s the FOP on the existence of this board?”

 

In response, Common Council president Karen White said the police chief, several Fraternal Order of Police representatives and a representative from the mayor’s office participated in the most recent training and expressed support for the board.

 

White, along with council members Lori Hamann and Henry Davis, Jr., co-sponsored the ordinance creating the board last year.

 

Giger said he wants Reynolds and Jones to participate in a public discussion similar to the Thursday night event to help address their concerns.

 

Both parties stressed the importance of recruiting a diverse board.

 

Once selected, the nine members will undergo virtual training from the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement, or NACOLE, as well as 12 hours of training and ride-alongs with South Bend Police.

 

Jones said the budget is still being finalized, but was estimated last year at a little under $500,000. It will include funding for staff, training and community outreach.

 

Click here to access the application for the board. Submissions close on July 23, and the review and selection of applications will take place from July 26 to August 6. Board members will be announced in early August.

 

Contact Jakob at jlazzaro@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @JakobLazzaro.

 

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