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South Bend mayor outlines proposed public safety director job

SOUTH BEND, Ind.—

South Bend’s mayor says he’s looking to close a gap in public safety.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg pitched to the council Monday a new position to oversee first responders.

He says right now there is a large gap in communication, policy-setting and support for first responders.

While he believes both police and fire chiefs are doing great jobs, he wants someone outside those departments to provide relief.

“The departments have moved the ball forward a long way, but we know there’s a long way to go and we want to give them the support they need,” said Mayor Buttigieg.

What that support looks like to the mayor is a policy-level official who can help navigate between the departments and integrate the work.

“This is intended to augment and streamline, not complicate the lines of authority we already have,” said the mayor.

The mayor asked the common council to fund the $105,000 position.

He says it’s comparable to the fire and police chiefs’ salaries.

Right now the Fire Chief Steve Cox makes $97,897 and Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski will make $100,344 next year.

The mayor says their salaries are higher with benefits included.

But some spoke out against the position Monday.

“If you vote yes on this all it’s going to do is distance the officers even more from the mayor,” said resident Claudia Preenkert.

They would like to see the money go towards other things.

“I don’t understand why we keep creating jobs when we really don’t need them,” said resident Jesse Davis.

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