Mayor moves forward with independent review of Elkhart police department
ELKHART, Ind. -- Months after a video surfaced showing Elkhart police officers beating a handcuffed man, Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese has chosen a U.S. attorney to review the department.
Monday morning the mayor met with Elkhart Police Chief Chris Snyder and that attorney to discuss the review.
Neese is asking the city council for funding to pay for the review which will cost more than $146,000, but the mayor says that money will mean restored faith in the police department.
“It's about looking at policies and looking at changes where necessary, but it's not about criticism,” said Neese.
The mayor selected former U.S. Attorney Deborah Daniels to study the use of force, disciplinary procedures and culture at the Elkhart Police Department.
The mayor called for an independent review after a January 2018 video showed two officers repeatedly beating a man handcuffed to a chair.
“I want to be very clear, use of force is not always a bad thing,” said Neese. “It's something that is necessary and is often required by Elkhart police officers. We just want to be certain it's being utilized in an appropriate fashion.”
Chief Snyder is optimistic about the investigation.
“It's not just somebody coming in and going you have a problem here, fix it. It's yes, you have a problem. Here's steps, here's ways that you can go about fixing that and how we ca work together to get the best product,” he said.
Daniels will to work with non-profit organization Police Executive Research Forum. The review board plans to talk with police officers, the FOP, the city council and members of the community.
“You will see us in the community,” said Daniels. “We'll be working throughout the course of the project, providing ongoing feedback to the police and to the mayor, so that at the end of the day, there is a strengthened police department and a strengthened community that has renewed faith in its police department.”
Some in Elkhart say it’s hard to see the whole story from the video, and they welcome the investigation to dig deeper and make sure the right actions are taken.
“I am behind our mayor I am also behind our police force,” said Danny Reynolds, who lives in Elkhart. “I think these days sometimes the police force locally and globally gets a bad rap and these people are putting their lives on the line to protect us. I think they need to be held accountable.”
And Snyder says accountability is the goal. He believes a review like this will help build trust within the Elkhart Community.
Ultimately, we're here to serve our community and if we can do things better that what we're doing now, to better protect our community, then that's what we want to do,” said Snyder. “So for us this is a training opportunity, an opportunity for us to figure out some things where we may be a little deficient and just improve upon those areas.
If approved, the review should take about nine months to complete.