Local pastors ask for more changes to the revised Use of Force Policy

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Leaders from Faith in Indiana gathered on the steps of the Berean Seventh-day Adventist Church on Thursday, calling on the city’s Board of Public Safety to reject the current draft of the Use of Force Policy.

The leaders feared the new Use of Force Policy is not clear enough, and want the board to ban officers from shooting at unarmed or fleeing suspects before the vote takes place.

“The policy as we see it is insufficient,” stated Reverend Gilbert C. Washington, of St. Paul Bethel Missionary Baptist, “If they don’t know what to do and when to do it, then it becomes a prerogative, and we don’t want the police acting on their own prerogative.”

The effort to reform the South Bend Police training manual, policy handbook and Use of Force Policy started a year and a half ago, after the deadly police shooting of car break-in suspect Eric Logan.

The incident sparked widespread protests and community meetings designed to reform the department, all to restore the public’s trust.

Faith in Indiana has taken an active role in the talks but remain concerned the policy allows lethal force against unarmed or fleeing suspects, explicitly wanting this to be prohibited.

Reverend Terri Bays, of Holy Trinity Episcopal, stated “We want there to be explicit guidelines so that the police know, that the people know that these are the circumstances and these are not the circumstances.”

The pastors want the guidelines to be more explicit and very clear for officers and the community as well, so they can feel safe and protected when dealing with law enforcement.

“We want a policy that works for everyone, so that we never get to those last resorts, except on very rare occasions. That’s what a clear and high bar does for the population,” stated Reverend Terri Bays, of Holy Trinity Episcopal.

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