South Bend’s police union accuses Mayor Pete Buttigieg of playing politics with the shooting of Eric Logan and “driving a wedge” between officers and residents.
In a release late Monday, the South Bend Fraternal Order of Police said it supports Sgt. Ryan O’Neill, the officer who fatally shot Logan in the parking lot of Central High Apartments on June 16. Police have said Logan was breaking into cars and approached O’Neill with a knife.
The statement says the actions of Buttigieg, who is running for president, have been divisive and “solely for his political gain and not for the health of the city he serves.”
The mayor’s focus on Logan’s family, the FOP says, has ostracized others, including the families involved in shootings over the weekend or the family of O’Neill, “all of whom are suffering greatly.”
“Mayor Buttigieg has in no way unified the community,” the statement says.
Early Sunday, one person was killed and several others injured in shootings at Kelly’s Pub on Mishawaka Avenue.
The statement also says the accountability level of officers has increased in the past several years. “The department’s duty manual has undergone restructuring and is at or above national standards in all areas.”
Discipline for officers who violate policy, the statement adds, “has been swift and firm.”
The statement ends with a plea: “In a short time, Mayor Buttigieg will no longer be the leader of this great city. However, the South Bend Police Department and the residents of South Bend will still be here. If we are to grow and change for the better, it will require us to set political agendas aside and simply come together.”
Earlier in the day, Buttigieg had emailed campaign supporters to address events this past weekend, as he faced raw emotions, shouts and protests over the Logan shooting.
“It was a painful but needed conversation,” he wrote. “And I feel overwhelmed and heartened by the number of people — supporters and critics — who have reached out and made it clear over the past week that they want to join hands and face these problems together.”
Buttigieg also wrote, “I will be working with my team and community to build on what we have done together over the past few years. It is clear we need to implement bolder and more aggressive actions moving forward.”
Monday wasn’t the first time the union took Buttigieg to task. In 2017, then-FOP president Dan Demler argued that the mayor hadn’t done enough to stick up for the department when officers faced criticism. As one instance, Demler pointed to Aaron Knepper, an officer was who embroiled in various controversies and lawsuits over use of force.
“The narrative has been put out there that we can’t be trusted,” Demler said.
Knepper was one of the officers who responded to the scene after the Logan shooting and transported Logan to the hospital. He is currently the treasurer of the FOP.
In response to Demler’s comments in 2017, Buttigieg said he was “proud of the dedication our officers show every day, and we stand by our officers when they do the right thing.”
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