Councilman calls for federal intervention and investigation into SBPD
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Racism and crime inside the South Bend Police Department, that is the claim one city councilman made in an explosive letter sent to the Department of Justice.
The letter from Henry Davis, Jr., calls for immediate intervention by the federal government. He said there are concerns that a racist, criminal culture exists within the police department.
This comes on the heels of the community's most recent demands that Metro Homicide Commander Tim Corbett and investigator Lt. David Wells step down because of allegations that the investigation into 31-year-old Michael Anderson's death was mishandled. Last month, Anderson died after choking on a bag of marijuana during a foot chase with police.
In the letter to the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, Councilman Henry Davis, Jr., asked the assistant Attorney General to conduct a full investigation into the "policies, practices and behavior of members of the South Bend Police Department".
"The community is crying out. They're asking for help, they're asking for answers. Clearly, the answers that have been given out, they are not satisfied with," said Davis.
For weeks, tension has been mounting within the community as some continue to question the credibility of the police department and several of its high ranking officials. That is why Davis said it was time to take some drastic steps.
Davis said the lack of trust has now created a serious safety concerns for the community, especially police officers. "There was a healthy sense of fear coming from the police department about what has occurred and also phone calls have been made that suggest that there could be some possible death threats out there," said Davis.
The councilman's letter goes on to state citizens are frustrated and believe members of local law enforcement have a racial bias towards minorities.The letter cites a breach of trust after South Bend resident, Michael Anderson, died in police custody on July 22nd.
Davis said much of the discontent brewing comes from distrustful residents who lack confidence in the investigators in charge of looking into Anderson's death. "Because of all the, 'I don't knows', the 'we don't knows' and the innuendos, we need to make sure those things are taken care of in a fashion that is going to satisfy the residents, the community and the elected officials," said Davis.
The mayor's office released this statement in response to the letter:
"The safety of our residents and our police officers is paramount. The administration is going to focus on reaching a resolution to the 'tapes' issue and the selection of a new police chief. In the long run, those two actions will help move South Bend forward. The City sent the recordings to Assistant Attorney General Perez to examine the content and to ascertain if the City needed to be aware of any possible impropriety. Since the City has received no response, we expect the issue will be addressed in a court of law."