The Department of Justice is moving away from taking on abuses by local law enforcement. This is what that means for Elkhart, Indiana.
Elkhart Police Chief Ed Windbigler was suspended for failing to promptly notify the mayor of the assault and “understating the severity of the incident” to the Police Merit Commission, a civilian oversight board.
“This sentencing sends a message that no one is above the law, especially those who have sworn an oath to uphold the law.”
“This is an assault on a helpless man by a police officer,” the judge said at the sentencing. “This is a very serious offense indeed, from my point of view.”
“No matter who you are, if you commit a violent crime, we are committed to holding you accountable and keeping our community safe.”
Of the 34 supervisors in the Elkhart, Indiana, Police Department, 28 have been disciplined. Fifteen have been suspended. Seven have been involved in fatal shootings. Three have been convicted of criminal charges.
Just before he left, the departing attorney-general adopted a policy to limit the Justice Department’s ability to oversee abusive police departments.
On Friday, the Elkhart, Indiana, Police Department released a 30-second clip of two officers beating a man in custody. Now we have the full 30 minutes, ending with the man leaving the police station on a stretcher.
Although the officers received reprimands for the incident five months ago, they were not charged until the video became public.
Instead of looking to combat-ready police to solve the problem of public disruption, the community itself has the capacity to create structures of safety and support by focusing on solidarity and confronting the foundational issues that are causing the violence in the first place.