Mayor stands by decision to make personnel changes at SBPD

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The U.S. Attorney's Office announced Thursday that no criminal charges will come from the federal investigation into the recording of certain phone lines at the South Bend Police Department.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg, in a written statement, responded to the findings made during the federal investigation and said it confirms the mayor's change in police practices.

But what about those personnel changes?

Former police chief Darryl Boykins was demoted and the director of communications, Karen DePaepe, was fired. Yet, the federal investigation into allegations that phone lines were being illegally recorded cleared them both of any wrong doing.

Still, the mayor says he stands by his decision to demote the chief and fire DePaepe.

In the letter sent out to Karen DePaepe's lawyer, Scott Duerring, it outlines the findings of the federal investigation that lead to DePaepe's firing.  

Mainly, the letter explains that the recording of certain phone lines within the police department did not violate the wire-tap act.

So ABC 57  asked the mayor any of this need to happen if no crimes were committed.

This was Mayor Buttigieg's response: "My job is not deciding when crimes are committed. My job is making sure this city is run with integrity and that's what I've done. It takes a little more than not committing a crime to have a leadership position in my administration".

However, that goes against several other statements made by the mayor about why he demoted chief Boykins and fired DePaepe. Just weeks ago, the mayor said he was forced to make the decision to remove both from their positions to protect the two from criminal charges.

ABC 57 asked the mayor if he made a mistake by making these personnel changes before finding out if any criminal charges would be filed and he simply said, no.

The mayor's written response to the U.S. Attorney's remarks, said authorities found problems with the police department's phone recording practices and has since made changes to those practices.

That Mayor is referring to findings of the federal investigation, which claim that a phone line in the detective's bureau was 'mistakenly' recorded.

After hearing neither DePaepe nor Boykins did anything wrong criminally, many in the community now feel, what federal investigators call a mistake, is bad enough to get someone fired or demoted.

So when asking the mayor his thoughts on community reaction, including some who are demanding he resign, the mayor said this: "Just because someone disagrees with a decision doesn't mean they can throw me out office, at least not until election day".

Members of a local community activist group, Citizens United for a Better Government, are now calling for the mayor to step down immediately. If not, members say they will seek the impeachment of Mayor Buttigieg.

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