South Bend FOP discusses SBPD vehicle pursuit policy at public safety meeting
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Inside the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreational Center, small groups focused on the vehicle pursuit policy at the South Bend Police Department.
On Tuesday, the groups went through scenarios allowing people to decide if officers should pursue or not pursue a suspect. SBPD Sergeant and FOP #36 President Harvey Mills applied his real-life experience to the made-up scenarios.
“It’s important for us that they understand why those policies are in place and how they work,” Mills said.
According to the policy, a vehicle pursuit is an active attempt by an officer in an authorized emergency vehicle to apprehend a fleeing suspect who’s actively attempting to elude the police. The policy states officers will place a priority on public safety and end the pursuit when the danger to the public outweighs the reason for the stop.
On Western and Kaley in South Bend, a memorial remains for Erica Flores, a young mother who was killed in a crash involving a former SBPD officer. The officer was not chasing anyone at the time, but the incident did raise concerns.
After the death of Flores, the community demanded accountability, diversity, and improvements on the police force. Mills said with the current policy, officers are held accountable.
“Yes, officers are held accountable for any mistakes they make,” he said.
At Tuesday’s meeting, people said they want the policy to be less vague and outline corrective measures. A city official said the policy was last updated in 2018.
Mills, who has been on the force for more than 20 years, said the policy is not vague. He said he wanted people and the Board of Public Safety to know why the policy is the way it is.
“Every situation is different it really depends on the seriousness of the crime,” he said.