The South Bend Board of Public Safety voted unanimously to approve the police discipline matrix at a meeting Wednesday morning. Local activists and faith leaders have been putting pressure on the board to pass the matrix for several months.
The discipline matrix outlines different penalties South Bend officers could face depending on the severity of an on the job offense. As the matrix currently stands, there are six categories with violations and penalties. The higher the category, the more serious the violation and discipline.
South Bend Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski emphasized that even though the discipline matrix was passed, it is a living document and can be changed moving forward.
“I know the adoption of [the discipline matrix] gives not only guidance but foundation and expectations of not just officers, administration, and the mayor’s office, but to our community as well,” he said.
Board of Public Safety member Melissa Colpitts said she hopes the matrix provides more clarity and direction when disciplining an officer.
“I think this is a great step forward to hold our police accountable and provide transparency to better strengthen the relationship between the community and the police department.,” she said.
Members of Black Lives Matter South Bend say they’re encouraged that the discipline matrix was approved but question if it will be properly used by the police department.
The idea of a discipline matrix was brought up last summer after a white South Bend police officer shot and killed a Black man. An outside consulting company, 21CP Solutions also recommended the South Bend Police Department adopt a discipline matrix.
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