‘I feel like we’re guilty until proven innocent…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) South Bend, Indiana, police offers have threatened a “mass exodus” if Mayor Pete Buttigieg—a leading Democratic primary contender for the White House—doesn’t help resolve the ongoing crisis between law-enforcement and residents in the wake of an officer-involved shooting.
“Morale around here has been terrible. We do nothing,” one police officer, a 20-year veteran of the force, told Fox News. “We call ourselves firemen; we sit around in parking lots until we’re called, and then we go to the call, because if you say or do something wrong, then you get hung.”
Buttigieg has had a strenuous relationship with law enforcement ever since he removed the city’s first African–American police chief, replacing him with a white officer.
A recent shooting, in which 54-year-old Eric Logan was shot and killed by Sgt. Ryan O’Neill, has only aggravated the tension in South Bend.
Instead of defending his officers, Buttigieg has used the shooting for “political gain,” according to the police union. Buttigieg released a statement claiming that “all police work and all of American life takes place in the shadow of racism.”
One officer said of the force’s morale was “at an all-time low. … It’s been really demoralizing and hard to come to work lately.”
There’s been a “big discussion” about “who’s staying and who’s going,” said another officer.
“I think you’re going to see a mass exodus. Our administration is a joke,” the officer continued.
Harvey Mills, spokesman for the South Bend Fraternal Order of Police, told Fox News that he knows of at least five or six officers who are “seriously” considering retiring or resigning because of the way Buttigieg has handled the aftermath of the shooting.
Another officer said as many as 10 could quit before the year is up.
“I feel like we’re guilty until proven innocent,” another officer said.
One way Buttigieg can help law enforcement is by standing up for his police officers instead of condemning them, Mills said.
“Police work keeps the community safe, and if our officers are afraid to do their jobs because they might get fired or criticized and have media pounding on their door, it’s just—we just need that support even if it’s a small pat on the back every once in a while,” he said.