The Associated Press State & Local Wire
DATELINE: SOUTH BEND Ind.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg said demoting the city’s first black police chief is the “toughest decision” he has faced since taking office, one that is causing confusion among some South Bend residents and members of the Common Council.
The South Bend Tribune reported Sunday that Buttigieg issued a statement Saturday night, a day after Darryl Boykins rescinded his resignation amid an apparent federal investigation into possible wiretapping of police department phones.
“This is the toughest decision I have had to make as mayor, especially given my respect for Darryl Boykins and what his achievements have meant to the community,” said Buttigieg, who took office in January.
“The people of South Bend elected me to make these decisions, and I believe I am doing what is best for the police department and the community as a whole,” the mayor said. “I understand this is a painful and difficult outcome for many people, and we all must work extra hard to ensure that there is time for listening, healing and dialogue as we move forward.”
Buttigieg announced Thursday night that Boykins would resign in reaction to an FBI investigation that found the police department’s practices for recording phone calls did not comply with federal rules.
Boykins then withdrew his resignation, saying the FBI investigation dealt with practices that existed before he was chief and that he never used or told others to use those practices. Her also said agreed to step down only because the mayor had pressured him to do so. Buttigieg still demoted Boykins to captain.
Boykins became South Bend’s first black police chief in late 2007. The demotion has been difficult for the city’s black residents.
“I walked the streets of South Bend for this mayor because I truly believed he would change things,” Tommy Moore said after Boykins’ supporters rallied Friday at the Martin Luther King Recreation Center.
“Right now, I’m not very happy with how he handled this matter,” Moore said of Buttigieg. “Chief Boykins is an up-front and straight man.”
Buttigieg has said he learned of the FBI investigation in January and can’t elaborate on what he knows.
Seven of the city’s nine Common Council members signed a letter Friday asking Buttigieg to retain Boykins as chief. Council President Derek Dieter said council members haven’t determined their next step.
“We’ll continue to monitor it and gather information as we can,” Dieter said.
Dieter, a South Bend police officer since 1978, has worked closely with Boykins, who joined the department in 1984. When Boykins worked in the K-9 unit, he even named his canine partner “Dieter.”
Buttigieg has named Chuck Hurley, a former police chief who is currently the deputy coroner of St. Joseph County, to serve as police chief until a permanent replacement is appointed.
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