Common Council aims to make hiring process for the Community Police Review Board Director more transparent

NOW: Common Council aims to make hiring process for the Community Police Review Board Director more transparent

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- After heavy public backlash about the hiring of the first ever Community Police Review Board Director, the South Bend Common Council updated its hiring process in an effort to bring more transparency to the community.

The move comes after the public spoke out about not being involved in the hiring process of the previous director Joshua Reynolds, a former Indianapolis police officer with several prior suspensions.

He later stepped down in September of 2021 after calls for his resignation, shortly after he was hired.

The hiring power has since shifted to the Mayor, who’s working with the Common Council to get a better outcome this time around.

The Council said they’ve updated the hiring process for the review board by including public input and transparency, a move they hope will restore trust in the community going forward.

“It is time for the mayor to fulfill his commitment to the citizens and create a transparent process as we select and appoint those that will take on the duties of the citizens review board,” said South Bend Common Council President Sharon McBride.

An updated hiring process for the Community Police Review Board Director came after the city clerk’s controversial hiring of Reynolds in 2021, a process some activists and the public felt they were left in the dark about.

“Unfortunately, at that time the process was not Cher transparent, there wasn’t hardly any public input so from our perspective that was just a complete violation,” said Jorden Giger the Co-Founder Black Lives Matter South Bend.

“We heard loud and clear they did not like that process they did not feel included in that process that’s why we’ve intentionally taken our time to make sure that we articulated as council members Thomas Morgan that all the steps here are very open, very transparent,” added South Bend Common Council Vice President Sheila Niezgodski.

Common Council members said they're taking accountability and in the new process they’ve already included public input along with suggestions from a document sent by local activists back in May of 2021.

"I took input from all of the council members HR and I also used recommendations that came from a white paper done by a community activists group,” said Fourth district Councilman Troy Warner.

The new process broke down by several steps with the first round would focus on things like candidate minimum requirements, public input, and candidate demographics.

The second round is set to highlight candidate finalist determinations along with releasing names to the public.

The third and final round would incorporate another public meeting allowing the community to meet finalists and ask questions.

Despite transparency, activists still expressed concerns with some of the process.

“We just wish that it wouldn’t have taken us this long to get here and that there’s a few things that really need to be clarified primarily about which demographic data will be reported out and what questions will be asked of candidates,” explained Giger.

The Council is set to vote on passing the resolution next Monday, March 14 and the public can weigh in as well.

Once the resolution is passed phone interviews will begin with those 33 candidates they’ve received applications from.

The mayor however makes the final determination which they hope will come around mid-May.

To access a copy of the proposed resolution, click here.

For more information about becoming a community police review board member click here.

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