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Community discusses SBPD use of force policy

NOW: Community discusses SBPD use of force policy

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — On Tuesday, people gathered at the Charles Black Center on the city’s west side to take a closer look at the use of force policy implemented at the South Bend Police Department. 

The latest incident of use of force in the city was in June when former South Bend Police Sergeant Ryan O’Neill shout and killed theft suspect Eric Logan. City officials could not comment on the shooting because it’s still under investigation. 

However, a city spokesperson said Tuesday’s public meeting was not in response to any specific incident. 

“We’re doing what we can to create a comprehensive, as comprehensive as possible, of an incident to get as much feedback on what could come up,” said Mark Bode, a city spokesperson. 

The department updated the policy in 2018, but the department’s history with use of force has strained relationships in the community. 

In 2012, three South Bend police officers illegally entered a home on Bowman Street and attacked then-18-year-old, Deshawn Franklin. The use of force, in this case, continues to rattle the community. 

“You don’t know if they’re coming to harm you or just coming to pull you over and ticket and let you be on your way,” said one man. 

This year, department data shows that there have been 35 cases where police have used force. One person has submitted a use of force complaint, according to department data. 

According to the policy, officers will only use the amount of force necessary. But the department said no policy can realistically predict every possible situation and officers are entrusted to use well-reasoned discretion. 

“That same wording can be applied to de-escalation and that’s hopeful,” said one woman. 

Tuesday’s meeting was a part of a series of meetings the Board of Public Safety is holding to get feedback on department policies. Next Tuesday the group will tackle the vehicle pursuit policy at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center at 6 p.m. 

Board members invite people who have not been able to attend the meetings to come to their regular meeting at 9:15 a.m. at the County City Building. 

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