Resolution to have South Bend Fire Department take lead on mental health emergency calls tabled

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(Jon Zimney/95.3 MNC)

Calls for change after the officer-involved shooting death of Dante Kittrell in South Bend led to a resolution drawn up by Council members Lori Hamann and Henry Davis Jr. who proposed that the South Bend Fire Department create a mental health crisis team as a way to handle such calls.

However, the the authors of the resolution didn’t talk to the fire department, or the police department, to get their input or perspective, according to South Bend Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski and South Bend Fire Chief Carl Buchanon.

“They are not mental health evaluators or clinicians who can provide that service,” said Fire Chief Carl Buchanon, in a Monday news conference. At that same news conference, Mayor James Mueller expressed his discontent with the bill.

“We believe it is premature and perhaps reckless by the bill’s authors,” he said.

The bill may have been filed in response to the fatal police shooting of a man two weeks ago, who may have pointed a gun at police. But, Councilor Sheila Neizgodski says the whole filing was improper.

“There was no communication with the chair of the Health and Public Safety Committee,” she said. “The protocols in place for proper filing were not followed.”

The resolution was tabled, indefinitely, during a council meeting on Monday.

Police Chief Ruszkowski says his department has been called for mental health crisis for as long as he can remember and, as he stated, nearly all of them, are resolved without such force.

Meantime, South Bend Police have issued a statement, saying they’ve turned over all evidence including in-car camera and body-worn videos from the officers who responded.

The department says if the videos are not released by county investigators, the Department will make them available once the investigation concludes.

The department says it acknowledges the community request to see the videos, and they feel it’s important to release them to maintain the transparency of their response.

The officers involved in the shooting remain on administrative leave until the prosecutor review is complete.

Network Indiana contributed to this story

2 COMMENTS

  1. When you want to get a vote passed, you get the folks involved in agreement and your votes counted BEFORE you bring it up ( unless you are just grandstanding) Sending UNARMED firemen to folks in crisis holding firearms is just not common safety sense for the firemen) “”However, the the authors of the resolution didn’t talk to the fire department, or the police department, to get their input or perspective, according to South Bend Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski and South Bend Fire Chief Carl Buchanon.””

    • This was never about being productive, this is all about demonizing the police and appearing to “do something” in front of their voters.

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