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South Bend Common Council seeks public input in Community Police Review Board hiring

Jennifer Weingart
WVPE Public Radio

The South Bend Common Council held its first public input meeting Monday as it seeks to hire a new Community Police Review Board director.

The board was created in fall 2020 to independently investigate police complaints. The city hired Joshua Reynolds to lead the board last May, but he resigned in August after it was revealed that he was suspended seven times during his work as an Indianapolis police officer.

The council also voted to move oversight of the board from the clerk’s office to the mayor’s office, despite opposition from activist groups and City Clerk Dawn Jones.

Following public calls for more transparency, the council instated a new process for hiring the review board director in March.

Community relations committee chair Troy Warner said Monday the council received about 40 applications, and identified 21 for preliminary phone interviews. Of those, three removed themselves from the process, eight did not respond to interview requests and 10 completed the interview.

Warner said the council has since identified six more applicants that could be incorporated into the second-round interview pool. While interviewees’ backgrounds range from accounting to life coaching, eight of the sixteen candidates mentioned have worked in law enforcement.

“I guess that’s alarming,” activist Kat Redding said during public comment Monday. “I just want to reiterate, respectfully, that law enforcement was not what the community was asking for, and I hope that the council would… do their due diligence to respect what the community has thus far said.”

The purpose of Monday’s meeting was to gather input on what experience, qualifications and characteristics the council should look for as it starts in-person interviews.

After public comment, the consensus was that the director needs to be trusted by both the public and law enforcement.

“Whoever it is, they’re going to have to be able to build a bridge — I think — because of what the community needs, ” Councilman Canneth Lee said. “They’re going to have to be somebody that can build a bridge and relay information in a way that the public will be able to understand.”

Council and community members also agreed that the director would need to understand the specific needs of the community.

“The relationship shouldn’t be adversarial,” Civil Rights Heritage Center director Darryl Heller said during public comment. “I think in order for that to be true, the person would have to have a sensitivity to the historic injustices that have happened between law enforcement and communities of color in South Bend.”

Heller and council members also stressed the need for the review board to remain independent of both the mayor’s office and the council.

Next, the council will conduct a round of in-person interviews and narrow the applicant pool to a group of up to five finalists. Public interviews will then be held with all finalists, followed by discussion and public input on the applicants.

The council will deliberate, then vote on a resolution recommending up to three applicants to Mayor James Mueller, who has the final say on who to hire.

Warner said the online application for review board director will remain open throughout the process.

Contact Gemma at or follow her on Twitter at @gemma_dicarlo.

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Gemma DiCarlo came to Indiana by way of Athens, Georgia. She graduated from the University of Georgia in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and certificates in New Media and Sustainability. She has radio experience from her time as associate producer of Athens News Matters, the flagship public affairs program at WUGA-FM.