South Bend Police Department Set to Receive Pay Raise for Officers Amid Nationwide Protests, Multiple Controversies

While police departments across the country are facing severe threats with financial aspects regarding ongoing protests taking place nationwide, the South Bend Police Department in Indiana is set to receive a raise. Towards the end of May, the city approved a 2.5 percent raise for police officers that was first proposed by Mayor James Mueller — who succeeded former mayor and Democratic nominee, Pete Buttigieg.

This was first brought up by Mueller due to the staff’s manpower shortage, according to NBC affiliate, WNDU. Another benefit in the approval was that officers who live within city limits would receive an increase of $2,500 after it was previously just $400. With the plan to appear in front of the city’s common council, two protests were organized over the weekend, urging the committee to vote "no" on the proposal, according to the news outlet. Mueller insists the raise is to help retain those in the force and increase recruitment.

This is a stark difference to what is being seen in the wake of George Floyd’s death after an officer in Minneapolis was charged with second-degree murder and the three other officers on the scene also were charged. As a result, protests have ensued from coast-to-coast bringing attention to police brutality and calling for an end to systemic racism.

The South Bend police department did put out a statement in regards to Floyd on May 30 in which all of those on the team expressed their "outrage" over his death, sharing that they were "sickened that anyone, let alone an officer, would do that to a human being." The statement also noted that while they understand the protests going and support the right to do so, they urge everyone in their own community to avoid violence and damaging businesses.

This is not the first time the South Bend PD has been in the news. Following the death of Eric Garner in 2014 at the hands of a New York City officer, officers from the department were allegedly seen wearing shirts that said, "Breathe Easy, Don't Break the Law," after Garner was heard on the video expressing to officers that he could not breathe. The controversy has since resurfaced as many are remembering, or even hearing about it for the first time, in how the South Bend officers responded in an ugly manner.

Given other controversies concerning SBPD's handling of racial issues, including video taken during an arrest in which SBPD officers can be heard quoting a scene from Django Unchained featuring Ku Klux Klan members struggling to see out of poorly crafted masks, critics claim police should have come out against the shirts more strongly.

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Similar incidents plague the police department, such as the rehiring of an SBPD police officer who performed multiple misconducts over the years, beginning with a mentally disabled clerk in 2012; beating an elderly man in 2014; and an altercation with Notre Dame football player Devin Butler in 2016, which prompted protests. The South Bend Tribune published a complete timeline of events, including most recently, Sgt. Ryan O'Neill, who captured national attention after he shot and killed 54-year-old black male, Eric Logan while responding to a call of someone breaking into vehicles downtown. Per ABC News, O'Neill did not activate his body camera during the incident, sparking questions and anger among residents, and leading the city administration to update the South Bend Police Department's policy on the use of cameras.

In more recent affairs and contrast, the Los Angeles Police Department will be losing up to $150 million in funds from the budget that will be redirected communities of color in the city. New York also is planning on making financial cuts for the first time to its police. As of Sunday, Minneapolis, city council members have voted to disband and defund the department.