Faith leaders meet with mayor, push for police reform in South Bend

By Max Lewis | WSBT-TV 22 (Mishawaka, Michiana)
June 11, 2020

Read the story and see photos at the source.

South Bend Mayor James Mueller got a push from the faith community today to implement police reforms in the city.

The group Faith in Indiana met with Mueller today to lay out what changes they want to see on the city’s police force.

The big ask is that the police discipline matrix, which spells out punishments for police misconduct, be implemented. But people in the meeting told us they got nowhere.

Faith In Indiana began its day with a prayer rally at the base of the county city building.

“God’s justice does not mean an eye for any eye and a tooth for a tooth. God’s justice means being in right relationship with our brothers and sisters,” said Deacon Mel Tardy from St. Augustine Catholic Church.

They were hoping and praying for a good outcome of the meeting its leaders were having with Mayor James Mueller.

But some feel those prayers went unanswered.

“We were a little bit disappointed, I shouldn’t say a little bit, very disappointed,” said Pastor J.B. Williams of Abundant Faith Ministries.

Pastor J.B. Williams who was a part of the meeting with Mueller says the mayor gave them nothing concrete, only telling them that things are in the works.

That’s not what they wanted to hear.

“We want a position to be taken now. We’re talking about justice for everyone and we want it now. We want the Mayor to take leadership, to take a stand and say ‘this is what I plan to do.’”

Faith in Indiana has long pushed for police reforms and oversight. They want de-escalation tactics to be used first, weapons second.

Pastor Williams says the group is upset after seeing action take place in other cities over the past week.

“We’re continuing to press this issue because it’s all over the country, not just the country, all over the world. So if they’re doing it, what’s wrong with South Bend?”

But Mayor Mueller says change takes time.

“If you can snap your fingers and make a measure happens, that’s unlikely to achieve the change you want over the long term,” said Mueller.

Mueller blaming the coronavirus for the delay, saying the pandemic has made it hard to get public input.

“Part of getting change done is making sure people are engaged and involved in the process, and with COVID-19 one of the big pieces is we can’t bring people together to make that happen.”

Pastor Williams and Faith in Indiana say they want people to keep peacefully protesting until real change happens.

Mayor Mueller says he hopes to announce new reforms in the coming days.

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