Officials table proposed discipline matrix for South Bend police officers

by Caroline Torie | WSBT 22
Jan. 15, 2020

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A system that will lay out consequences for police officer violations in South Bend will have to wait.

The Board of Public Safety tabled the proposed “discipline matrix” on Wednesday. Members want more discussion and input on the document.

While many attending today’s meeting agree, some hope that the board will take action to approve the guidelines sooner rather than later, like the group Faith in Indiana. It’s concerned this delay means a timeline for approval won’t be set.

“Our members are resolute that the city must to make good on its commitment to this crucial step in police accountability and in building trust between the police and the community,” said Nicole MacLaughlin, Faith in Indiana representative.

Some agree that establishing clear, consistent disciplinary guidelines for officers should happen soon.

“Let’s not wait so long that perfection prevents a great improvement,” said Bradley Laird, Faith in Indiana member.

But others — including the Fraternal Order of Police President — say more consideration will make the document better for police officers and the community.

“We are very much in favor of the matrix,” said Harvey Mills, South Bend Fraternal Order of Police president. “We want to see move forward, but we want to see it done the right way.”

South Bend leaders are also asking for more time to get it right. The mayor’s chief of staff made a statement on his behalf, saying more voices need to be heard.

“This will continue to be a living document that will be updated as we go,” said Kacey Gergely, Mayor Mueller’s Chief of Staff. “However, we want the first draft to be as close to a gold standard as possible.”

She said the guidelines need to be fair to officers, hold bad actors accountable and reflect the community’s expectations for discipline.

“The most feedback that I’ve seen is that people want to make sure their response to any incident is consistent and reasonable,” said Gergely. “So we are reviewing the entire matrix just to make sure it’s in alignment with national best practices and also what’s best for our community.”

Public input can be emailed to bps@southbendin.gov. The city also encourages you to attend the next community action group meeting on February 4.

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