Local Faith Group Calls For Stronger Police Use Of Force Policy In South Bend

Feb 11, 2021

Pastor Claval Hunter stands with other South Bend faith leaders on the steps of his church, Berean Seventh Day Adventist Church, where he spoke in favor of a stronger police use of force policy on Wednesday, Feb. 11.
Credit Gemma DiCarlo / WVPE Public Radio

Some South Bend faith leaders are calling for the city to strengthen its Police Use of Force policy, which will come before the Board of Public Safety next week.

The policy was first introduced last August, just over a year after Eric Logan, a Black man, was shot and killed by a white SBPD officer near downtown South Bend.

 

The current version allows officers to use an “objectively reasonable” amount of force, meaning the use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer in a similar situation, without the benefit of hindsight.

 

Reverend Terri Bays, of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, said the policy needs to move beyond that standard and include specific examples of what constitutes “reasonable” force. 

 

“We want there to be explicit guidelines so that the police know, so that the people know, ‘These are the circumstances and these are not the circumstances,’” Bays said.

 

She said those guidelines could include banning an officer from firing on a fleeing individual, and stating that an officer can only use force when there’s “clear evidence” an individual is a threat, not just when an officer believes them to be.

 

Bays and other local members of the activist group Faith in Indiana are asking for a meeting with South Bend Mayor James Mueller to talk about revising the policy. 

 

The Board of Public Safety is expected to review the Use of Force policy at their next meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 17.

 

Contact Gemma at gdicarlo@wvpe.org or follow her on Twitter at @gemma_dicarlo.

 

If you appreciate this kind of journalism on your local NPR station, please support it by donating here.