Mayor's office, community react to final total of applicants for Board of Public Safety seat
SOUTH BEND, Ind. ---- Following the deadly police shooting two months ago, the South Bend Police Department and city officials have been looking for ways to strengthen community relationships.
In July, the mayor’s office began accepting applications from the general public to fill a vacant seat on South Bend’s Board of Public Safety for the first time ever.
The four current board members were either appointed by Mayor Pete Buttigieg or previous mayors. Now, having the vacant seat filled by a member of the community is a big opportunity for building trust back in both the city and the police force.
Wednesday marked the application deadline for those wishing to be considered for the vacant seat and after a final count, the Mayor’s office reports there were a total of 13 applications submitted by community members.
South bend resident Clara Ross thinks that number is impressive and that having a community voice on the board is a step in the right direction.
“Not only was it a good move, it was very strategic, it was very forward thinking, it was very proactive instead of reactive and actually I’m very proud of the mayor for taking this route,” Ross said.
While that number is impressive to Ross, others in the community may view those numbers as low considering the intense public outcry for change following the deadly officer involved shooting of Eric Logan. They mayor's office extended the deadline to apply in early August because there weren’t even ten applications.
Community activist Jorden Giger said it’s not that surprising that the numbers of applicants are as low as they are.
“I’m not surprised that people are not as inclined to run for it, I mean there are certainly issues, but I think that because it’s been going on for decades people think that there really isn’t a way to make it better, it’s just going to be business as usual,” Giger explained.
While only 13 people were interested in the open Board of Public Safety seat, the citizen’s police academy is full. On Tuesday, the department saw one the largest classes in years.
“Obviously the departments been in the news quite a bit because of recent events and I think people want to know more about the department,” Ken Garcia said, a spokesperson for SBPD. “Normally we would get about 20 to 25 people but this time we got 49 people register so that’s very encouraging.”
The mayor’s office is also encouraged by the number of applicants for the Board of Public Safety seat. In a statement to ABC57, a spokesperson for the mayor said: “We are pleased that so many residents expressed interest in serving South Bend on the Board of Public Safety. Our office looks forward to reviewing the applications so that the Mayor can appoint a high-quality candidate to this important civilian board.”
The next step in the process will be reviewing all the applications submitted. From there, the Mayor will begin the interview process for the best-suited candidates.
For more information about the duties of those on the Board of Public Safety, click here.