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Indiana News

South Bend Council Rules Comm. Talks Concerns Over CPRB Director; Passes Resolution Seeking Records

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Justin Hicks/WVPE
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The South Bend Common Council’s Rules Committee unanimously approved a resolution Monday night to request or subpoena personnel files and other background information on Joshua Reynolds from his time as an Indianapolis and Butler University police officer.

It now goes for a vote before the full council July 26.

 

The committee also discussed steps the council could take to amend the ordinance and clarify the hiring process for the board’s director, as well as adding further details on the appointment of board members by the council.

 

Two weeks ago, the South Bend Tribune reported that Reynolds, the recently hired director of the Community Police Review Board, had seven suspensions during his time as an officer with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

 

And last week, Reynolds issued a statement saying he would not resign after the mayor said he should do so. He said some of the suspensions were due to mistakes he made, but also alleged he faced retaliation and harassment after reporting two officers for misconduct.

 

Councilman Troy Warner said the first step to rebuilding trust in the board is for someone to step forward and take responsibility for the missteps in the hiring process.

 

“Somebody needs to own it. We’ve seen a lot of finger pointing, a lot of blaming going on — it’s embarrassing,” Warner said. “We’ve got a board here that’s going to look at police officers, yet somehow this was missed or hidden.”

 

In 2014, the common council passed a resolution to study forming a Community Police Review Board. After years of discussion, a bill to create the CPRB was introduced in March 2020, and a final version of that bill passed in October 2020.

 

Under the ordinance that created the review board, City Clerk Dawn Jones is in charge of hiring the board’s director while the common council manages the board’s budget and appoints board members.

 

Due to Indiana state law, the common council cannot hire city employees. And there is nothing the council can do to dismiss Reynolds at this point, but it can investigate any city employee.

 

But Jorden Giger, an activist with Black Lives Matter South Bend, said during public comment that Clerk Jones said last month she’d kept the council in the loop as part of the interview process.

 

“In fact, she said that you all weighed in on the decision to hire this person,” Giger said. “So, what are the missteps?”

 

And South Bend resident Julian Dean said he wants to know if the council will consider revising the hiring process for the director in the future.

 

“I’m thinking back to last summer, and all the public meetings we had to get this board right,” Dean said. “Everyone who went to those meetings said they did not want a former police officer in a position of authority on this committee, and yet here we are.”

 

Council president Karen White said she takes responsibility for some of the missteps in the hiring process.

 

“But that does not mean that this is not a good ordinance; it does not mean that we do not support the police review board,” White said. “We’re willing to do the work because this is so important to our community.” 

 

White also said the council is still moving forward with selecting board members as scheduled.

 

The board is still taking applications for membership. 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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