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12/4/2018 5:08:00 PM
Elkhart council members: Private investigation of city police may be necessary

Christian Sheckler, South Bend Tribune

ELKHART — At least three members of the Common Council say they would support paying a private firm to investigate the city’s police force if the U.S. Department of Justice declines to conduct a review in the wake of a video showing officers beating a handcuffed man and reports by The Tribune and ProPublica about the department.

Mayor Tim Neese last month asked the Indiana State Police to conduct a “thorough and far-reaching” investigation to look for any patterns of excessive force in his city’s police force.

The state police declined, saying such an investigation was beyond their purview, and referred Neese to the U.S. Department of Justice. But the Justice Department, which has retreated from oversight over local police departments, may not take on the job. 

Without help from the state or federal government, some Common Council members say they would support an outside investigation by a private firm — similar to the city’s approach in 1994, when the city commissioned experts to study the police department after a civil rights trial that resulted in verdicts against five officers.

One council member, Richard Shively, a Republican, says he is unsure how long the council would wait for the mayor to act.

“We’re all trying to be patient. We believe this is in the mayor’s hands at this point, but we’re not happy with the results,” Shively said. “My hope is that the mayor will do his job and find out what condition his police department really is in.”

Another Republican councilman, David Henke, believes a majority of the nine-member council “would facilitate some money for an investigation to happen. We’re getting to the point we must because DOJ is not going to look at this.”

Related Stories:
• Elkhart Police chief Ed Windbigler serving a 30-day unpaid suspension
• 'No less than a purposeful cover-up,' Elkhart councilman says of police investigation
• Elkhart mayor yet to request DOJ investigation into the police department
• Nearly all officers in charge of Elkhart police have been disciplined
• Elkhart mayor calls for 'complete investigation' of city police
• Mayor Neese says he will seek independent review of Elkhart Police Department
• Elkhart police chief stepping down at mayor's request
• New Elkhart police chief from inside or outside the department?
• Elkhart, city police police named in 2016 death civil suit
• Unclear future for Elkhart police following chief resignation at mayor's request

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