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WVPE News

South Bend Common Council OKs plan to hire new Police Review Board Director, appoint board members

CPRB-Director-Selection
Jakob Lazzaro
/
WVPE
Common Council President Sharon McBride speaks about the new process for selecting a Community Police Review Board Director during a March 10 press conference.

The South Bend Common Council unanimously passed a resolution Monday night outlining a plan to hire a new Community Police Review Board director and appoint the board’s nine members.

The director position has been vacant since August 2021, when former director Joshua Reynolds resigned following a South Bend Tribune investigation that revealed he’d been suspended seven times during his work as an Indianapolis police officer.

The council has also not yet appointed the board’s nine members. But the resolution passed Monday night outlines processes for both positions, with a focus on transparency and public input.

First, the council president Sharon McBride and the city’s human resources department will conduct preliminary phone interviews with all the candidates.

Then, the council will hold a public meeting to gather input on desired experiences, characteristics and qualifications for the position.

That input will be used to craft questions and scenarios for use in second and third round interviews.

All applicants will also get background checks, which will include a review of social media posts and a public records check for disciplinary records of any former government employees.

In the second round, the council will narrow the application pool to five finalists and release their names, as well as demographic data on the race, gender and zip codes of all applicants.

For the third round, the council will hold public interviews with the five finalists. People will be able to submit questions and topics two days in advance.

At the meeting, each finalist will introduce themselves and be interviewed by the city’s HR rep, the council president and the council attorney. Then, a moderator will open up the meeting for a final round public input and discussion on the applicants.

Two days later, the community relations committee will meet to provide its final input on the finalists. And finally, the council will vote on a resolution recommending no more than three applicants to Mayor James Mueller, who has the ultimate say on who to hire.

Per the original ordinance, the board’s director may not be a sworn law enforcement officer, but former law enforcement officers are eligible.

But several public commenters said that should not be the case. Katheryn Redding asked the council to “keep in mind” that community members did not want police officers running the board.

“I’m sure there’s other candidates that are qualified for the position other than the police,” Redding said.

In a March 10 press conference, council member Troy Warner said phone interviews should begin later this week and the first public meeting will be held by the end of March. In the best-case scenario, he said a new director could be hired by May or June

As for appointing the board’s nine members, the resolution states that each council member will interview and nominate one candidate from within their district, with the council’s three at-large members interviewing and nominating candidates from anywhere in the city.

Members must be South Bend residents and must not be sworn law enforcement officers, and all nominees will go through the same background check process as the board’s director.

The nine nominees will be introduced at a public meeting and will be appointed to the board via a simple majority vote.

The online application for board members will remain open until 4 p.m. on April 15.

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