Mayor calls for community police review board director to resign
SOUTH BEND, Ind.-- Near the end of May, South Bend City Clerk Dawn Jones announced the hire of the city’s first ever Community Police Review Director, Joshua Reynolds. The announcement, first sparking anger and disappointment with Black Lives Matter South Bend, because Reynolds filled the position without public discussion or meetings first.
Just 4 days ago, a second wave of concern, after records of Reynolds job history showed he was suspended 7 times during the 7 years he worked for the Indianapolis Metro Police Department.
“I was stunned I think just like a lot of members from the community were. This is certainly not the type of background that the community or I was expecting to have in this important position,” South Bend Mayor James Mueller said.
Reynolds telling ABC57 news last week that he owns up to all of his mistakes, and that his past employment history was never brought up during the interview process.
“I’ve made mistakes in my past,” Community Review Police Director Joshua Reynolds said. “I don’t try to hide it. Right? But I’m also not going to offer it up with new people I don’t even know.”
Which brings the question as to what the hiring process actually looks like and how something like this fell through the cracks, with such a sensitive new post designed to handle citizen complaints and hold police accountable.
“This position is different than every other position within the executive branch of the city administration. So, when common council and the clerk and community were working on this ordinance last year, one of the things that came forth was that they wanted to see it as an independent body relative to the mayor's office,” Mueller said. “Ultimately it’s the hiring manager, even within the city administration, that is responsible to ensure that the hiring process has been thorough and they’ve got the candidate that they want to have in whatever position they’re hiring for.”
South Bend’s Mayor James Mueller, blaming the clerk’s office for not doing a thorough background check and is now calling for Reynold’s resignation or dismissal.
“At this point I don’t see a path forward for how this office can build this trust that’s necessary under the current director so I hope the director takes the hard look at where things are and the paths forward and realizes the same thing,” Mueller said. “The sooner we put this unfortunate episode behind us, the sooner we can work together as a community to get this important initiative back on track.”
ABC57 now learning that Reynolds does not plan to resign from his position. Mueller is not calling on the City Clerk, Dawn Jones, who hired Reynolds, to take matters into her own hands.
ABC57 reached out to Jones for comment, but she was not available to go on camera today.
Here is the seven page address Reynolds made in response to community leaders requesting his resignation:
"I am honored to have been chosen as Director of the Community Police Review Office. I look forward to embarking on the work of this important office. Recently, however, disciplinary actions taken against me when I served as an Indianapolis police officer were brought to the attention of the South Bend media. I would like to discuss my record here and assure the community these actions will not impair my ability to serve in my new position. I was employed at Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department for 9 years from April 2008 through March 2017. On two occasions, I reported different officers, one for ghost employment and one for abusive behavior. I experienced retaliation and isolation from my department and my peers for reporting these two officers. The Department proceeded to retaliate against me through poor treatment and disciplinary actions. I endured years of this without assistance or support from the city's Human Resources Department. So, I opted to report discrimination, harassment, and retaliation to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. I completed my complaint and IMPD responded by listing the same disciplinary actions now at issue. The EEOC completed an investigation and submitted their findings to IMPD and me. IMPD then offered to settle the claim if I agreed to not pursue further legal action. I accepted the offer and have a copy of the EEOC form to end the complaint. I have made repeated attempts to contact IMPD Human Resources regarding my personnel file within the past few days without the courtesy of a response. I would like to note at the outset that this type of smear campaign and retaliatory behavior is a common tactic used by some officers, specifically from IMPD, to silence people and keep them down. They appear to be using this tactic against me and South Bend, a community in the process of trying to enact change. I am disappointed but not surprised people are trying to cut me down and I fully anticipate the behavior to continue and escalate during my tenure as Director. Indeed, South Bend FOP #36 leaders stated they intend to try to uncover more violations, with the intent to further attempt to silence and discredit me and thwart the progress of the City of South Bend and the efforts of the Common Council. Notwithstanding, I pledge to work with South Bend's Mayor, City Council, Police Chief, Board of Public Safety, FOP #36, Black Lives Matter, the religious community, and anybody wishing to work with me. I attempted to contact FOP #36 and have not had a direct response. However, I did have an impromptu meeting with FOP VP Josh Morgan and other SBPD officers in a grocery store recently and felt it was a constructive conversation. I wish to have more of these conversations. If the FOP wishes to voice complaints and concerns about me, the review office, the complaint process, or the board, the lines of communication are open on my end. While I have not yet met with leaders of the South Bend chapter of Black Lives Matter, I am encouraged to have a scheduled meeting with them in early August. I am prepared to answer difficult questions and put in the work to build trust with this group. I have attempted to reach out to many community leaders and groups to share my story, vision, and goals for the Community Police Review Board. I often hear and have used the phrase "listening to both sides" when talking about this new board. I am changing this to "listening to all sides" as there are far more than two stakeholders. City and SBPD leadership have both expressed this board is unnecessary and duplicating services. The majority of citizens do not agree with this and I want to help bring the community and police department together to solve these complex problems. As to the background on my IMPD personnel file and disciplinary actions, I submit that not one of these actions makes me unfit for the position of Director of the Review Office. Notwithstanding, in the interest of transparency, I will discuss these disciplinary actions. In 2009 I received my first suspension for "forcibly entering a residence without a warrant." This violation occurred when I responded to a domestic dispute. When I arrived, I approached the family members who were arguing on the front lawn. While I was verbally trying to deescalate the situation, one of the parties struck me and immediately turned and ran away. I began chasing them on foot in "fresh pursuit" to arrest them. They ran into a house and shut the door. I forced open the door, they surrendered, and I put them into handcuffs. While my actions were within the law under fleeing misdemeanants it was not in compliance with a departmental policy that required the underlying charge to be a felony. A complaint was filed and I was disciplined for violating this policy. I accepted full responsibility and accountability for this and accepted the punishment of a one-day suspension without any argument. The law on this was recently changed by the US Supreme Court in June of this year and now requires police in pursuit to consider more factors. I agree with this change. While on middle shift in 2011, I also participated in a Spanish language training program offered by IMPD. We spent several months learning Spanish in a classroom environment which culminated in a month-long trip to Mexico funded by the Badges without Borders program. We were fully immersed in the culture to learn the flow of the language. We also learned of the hardships faced by the Mexican people, why so many choose to immigrate to the US, and how they are treated once they are in this country. When I got back from this experience, I attended an in-service training which was presented by the deputy director of public safety. I did not realize she held this position initially and thought she was simply a presenter. In her efforts to inform us of complaints from the Latinx community about how they felt officers were targeting them, she asked for officers to help by meeting with community members. In response, officers became defensive and angry that someone thought they might be racist and discriminating against this community. The deputy director ended the session early and left the room crying from the abuse she had endured. Having come from my recent trip and the training, I went up to her afterward and volunteered to attend community meetings. In doing so she invited me to come to speak with her a few days later and we were joined by the Director of Public Safety. We had a good discussion where I was able to share my thoughts on a wide range of topics. Some of which were enacted by the Director. In 2013, I volunteered to serve on a special project to address high crime rates in the city. As I have grown and learned, I feel very differently now about this strategy, however, as a young officer, I wanted to prove myself. Our instructions were to increase patrol in strategic neighborhoods. IMPD leadership wanted to see "productivity" in traffic stops and arrests with a focus to get guns and drugs off the street. I was their best producer for several months. My first supervisor on this specialized unit described me as a "tenacious go-getter" so when he asked the team who wanted to do the project I volunteered. He said to me, "I wasn't going to give you the option. You have to stay because you have the best numbers." As I mentioned, I don't feel this is an effective method to deal with high crime rates. It increases mistrust of the police and is part of the systemic abuse that continues to harm black communities at a higher rate than other communities. A few months later another Sergeant, who had been recently promoted, took over the assignment. Shortly thereafter, I discovered another officer had been going home after a roll call for entire shifts for weeks. I reported this to the supervisor as was required. The next day I was called into his office and informed I was "no longer a good fit for the team" and sent back to regular patrol duties. No actions were taken against the officer. A few months later the supervisor was arrested and charged with soliciting a prostitute at a strip club in another district while on duty, in full uniform and fully marked police car. I am sorry and accountable for a comment I made on social media. I was suspended for this comment. I reached out to those who I wronged and apologized immediately after making an inappropriate comment on a photo on Facebook. It was inexcusable. As a father of two daughters, I would have also been very angry about the comment I made. I allowed myself to succumb to social media and was becoming more insensitive and outspoken. I did not realize how my mental health had been affected by my years of working in law enforcement. We now know that fifty percent of officers have diagnosable PTSD and many other mental health issues. Another 30-35 percent have signs and symptoms of PTSD. This is not to excuse my behavior but rather to learn and grow and help others. I was punished with a suspension. In another instance, when a newly promoted Lieutenant was assigned to my shift I was quickly targeted by him. He demeaned, harassed, and verbally abused me on many occasions. In one instance, as witnessed by my sergeant at the time, he said "I don't think you are man enough to work in a big city police department" and he intended to see that I was terminated. When I reported this behavior to the department I was transferred to another district. This district was where he had previously served for many years as a sergeant. I learned later the officers I previously worked with on his shift all asked to be transferred because of his abusiveness towards them. To my knowledge, he was never held accountable for his behavior. Although I had filed a formal complaint with the department about this supervisor no action was ever taken against him nor was he ever informed of the complaint. The Department transferred me again and I was informed by my new supervisor that she had been instructed to issue formal disciplinary action for any infraction of department policy no matter how small. She stated directly that she intended to do all she could to see I was terminated. This supervisor wrote me up for technical violations that occurred months before due to not submitting a request for off-duty employment for playing with my band. These requests are typically used for working part-time jobs as an officer. My previous supervisors were fully aware I was a musician and played regularly, some even attended my performances. At no point did they ask me to submit documentation about this. This continued for several more weeks and I was written up for minor violations. I was ordered to complete additional work duties and if there were any errors I would be written up. This included typographical errors or anything deemed to be insufficient. This additional work was not required of any other officer nor was it a common practice. It was simply to create additional barriers for me. I accepted this and the idea that I just wasn't good enough. In coming to the new district I was shunned and isolated. I was labeled as a problematic officer. I was offered no support or help to improve, only disciplined and degraded at every turn. Looking back I should have done more to have these removed from my file and held the department accountable for their actions. This may have helped to prevent this from happening to others. I regret not doing more. I also regret not doing more to protect myself and develop healthy coping strategies. I had isolated myself for years and was unable to cope with physical, emotional, and psychological problems. I felt shame, regret, undeserving, and unworthy. These recent attacks have brought some of those feelings back. It is painful to relive that time in my life, but I accept that the community seeks to understand even if some simply seek to attack. Along with my background in law enforcement, and my recent work as a private investigator, I would like to share more about myself. I grew up in Indianapolis and I started my first job at 15. I graduated from high school and went to Ball State University for Music Education. After my second year, I took time off from college so I could work and pay bills. The following year I joined the Indiana Army National Guard where I served for 12 years from 2001-2013. I played trombone as my primary assignment but served in other areas as well. I led and trained teams in the Military Funeral Honors program around the state and was selected to be a part of the Ceremonial Unit. I performed around 300-400 funerals for veterans over a few years. I toured the state with the 38th Division Band for ten of the years I served. I am very fond of this time and the friends I made. After completion of basic training with the Army, I went back to Ball State University and changed my major to Criminal Justice and Criminology, and minored in Military Science. I graduated in 2003 and made the Dean's list while taking nearly double full-time credit hours for my last two years. I then was selected to participate in a program called Police Corps to obtain certification as a police officer in Indiana. This program was funded by the federal government and approved by the Indiana Law Enforcement Training Board. To be selected for this I had to have a college degree and complete a selection process that was identical to a standard police agency hiring process. The program was twenty weeks long, seven days per week, and consisted of 16 hour days (12 hours on Sundays). The course length was roughly 2,160 hours and covered additional topics in community policing, racial disparity in law enforcement, leadership, and many more areas. The typical ILEA police training at the time was about 13 weeks and 40 hours per week, which I believe is similar to today. Those cadets were employees of police agencies and were limited to 40 hours to prevent overtime. This training was about 520 hours and covers the very basics of law enforcement requirements. Most officers return to their department and complete a field training program process as well. After graduating from the academy, I got married. I went to work for Butler University as a police officer. I became certified as a police cyclist and regularly performed bike patrols of the campus and surrounding neighborhood. I resurrected an informal adopt-a-dorm program and held campus safety training sessions for students. This is where I developed a desire to foster relationships with the community I served as an officer. It was a good experience and a good place to work, but I decided to join the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department for more pay and benefits. I accepted the position of Patrol Officer in April 2008 with IMPD. I attended their academy which was reduced from 25 weeks to 20 weeks because of my prior experience and certification as a police officer. This was an additional 800 hours of training. I completed an abbreviated FTO program of about 3 months versus the standard 6 months. I was then assigned to work the North District middle shift where I stayed for several years. After I resigned from IMPD, I went back to school and earned a Master's in Business Administration. I took a leadership role in corporate security. I was rebuilding myself after feeling broken and a failure in all areas of my life. It was a dark and painful time. I sought out counseling including spiritual counseling. I worked on building my relationship with my family and God. I have continued examining my life's successes and failures, and work to improve in all areas. I have since gone into investigative work and led hundreds of investigations on behalf of individuals, non-profits, and global corporations. I have continued to improve my knowledge and have earned certifications as a Civil Rights investigator, Data Analyst, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. I am not content with the status quo and will continue to improve myself even while others attempt to tear me down. My extensive knowledge of law enforcement and investigation will serve me well as I develop South Bend's first Community Police Review Office. Part of my vision for the Review Office is to not only investigate citizen complaints about police officers but to work with police officers to improve their ability to serve and protect. I have learned that officers, including myself, are discouraged from dealing with their mental health issues despite many knowing full well they are not doing okay. Police administrations are failing to protect officers and the public. They offer short-term employment assistance programs. The city of South Bend offers five free counseling sessions per year. This is grossly inadequate for officers who are suffering from years of trauma who then bring that trauma to the community. This does not address all of the problems in law enforcement or in the communities they serve. Many changes need to happen. This is one portion that I feel is a critical first step. Fifteen SBPD officers have died in the line of duty. I have also lost many friends in law enforcement in the line of duty and to suicide. While I don't know how many SBPD officers have died from suicide, I can say I have lost more friends to this in my time in law enforcement and the army than those killed in the line of duty. Suicide is the greatest killer of police officers compared to all line of duty deaths combined, but the lack of consistent data makes it difficult to determine the actual numbers. While others may not have died from their mental health issues, they have been left broken and lost. I count myself among these survivors, but not without great expense. I am grateful for the support I have received from my wife, community leaders, Clerk Jones, and friends from IMPD who have reached out to me. I will continue to fulfill my role as Director as an apolitical neutral party. This work is too important and must not be delayed any further. The citizens of South Bend have demanded this and it is now here. The board should be funded and provided resources to fulfill the obligations outlined in the ordinance. Despite funding requests, the only progress in this area that has been made is filling the role of Director and some would have that undone. The role of this office and board is to increase transparency, be an independent body, conduct investigations, provide recommendations for disciplinary actions and departmental policies. We need an office, training, staff, equipment, and more. I am dedicated to establishing a fair process that restores a sense of justice in the community and trust in the police. I am dedicated to being transparent and showing the proof through data and evidence. I am dedicated to bringing the voices of this community to the table where we will not be afraid, to tell the truth or be retaliated against for doing so. I pledge to establish an effective Review Office where all voices may be heard in a safe space to work toward the betterment of South Bend and its citizens."