The South Bend police chief is being accused of ignoring the city’s new use of force policy. City councilman Henry Davis, Jr. is claiming that police officers have “admitted that there had not been sufficient training” on the city’s new use of force policy.
Chief Scott Ruszkowski, who helped author the new policy, clapped back at the councilman saying that his claims are “baseless” and that the comments were “detrimental and disrespectful to our dedicated officers.”
Ruszkowski says his officers are required to have 24 hours of training each year and that the department regularly exceeds that.
Statement from Councilman Henry Davis Jr.:
As a three-time elected leader of South Bend, a victim of police brutality, champion of police accountability, and supporter of police pay raises and progressive police policy, I find it reprehensible that a city employee, the Chief of Police in this case, used a public forum to blast an elected representative who votes on his budget and salary.
Chief Ruszkowski did not use his private Facebook page to air his complaints. He used a social media account that is supported by taxpayer dollars to defame me.
There is absolutely no space for this type of behavior in any organization. I also have grave concerns about the message this sends to other employees and departments within our municipal government. One cannot be given preference over others so if the Chief is allowed to behave in this manner every city employee can do so. Also, the matter at hand remains unaddressed.
A South Bend police officer and leader in the local Fraternal Order of Police took time out of his day to express not only his frustration and confusion but also his dissatisfaction with the entire process. As a re-elected leader who is not a city employee, it is my job to respond accordingly.
As highlighted in today’s Tribune, the Chief himself was taken aback by the officer’s comments and acknowledged that if officers are not properly trained then we have a serious problem.
I agree with the Chief’s comments at yesterday’s Board of Public Safety meeting, which, he should note, are reflected in the public record. There is a recording of his response. If officers themselves are making these allegations publicly, then we have a problem and we should act.
Last summer, we left the budget cycle with an understanding that the police department was set to make structural changes within their department. Because of that commitment on their part, they were awarded a nearly 9% raise over several years from our current Council. I voted in favor of this raise despite public calls to vote against the increase. And despite the fact that we are facing what feels like an insurmountable debt issue.
Yesterday, we were informed that our police leadership is not holding up to its end of the bargain. Yes, there needs to be a full investigation of departmental training practices — but also on the behavior of our esteemed Chief. Our city cannot grow with these types of hiccups and internal conflicts that have been made public.
There is a deep-rooted problem when our nation is rocked by police murders and the City of South Bend refuses to adapt to change. It is a larger problem when a black man, who represents 18,000 residents, points these issues out and it becomes vilified. South Bend has a long way to go and a very short time to make it.
Councilman, Henry Davis Jr.
2nd District, City of South Bend, Indiana