SOUTH BEND, Ind. — It’s tough to be a police officer in today’s world, says Harvey Mills.
He’s the president of the Fraternal Order of Police in South Bend.
“It’s tough to hire officers in today’s climate,” Harvey said to WIBC’s Tony Katz on Tuesday. “We’re criticized for everything we do. I’ve talked to over 20 officers that are looking for an out.”
Harvey says in South Bend, a city of 105,000 people, there are only 240 police officers. There’s one less, after Sgt. Ryan O’Neill resigned last week.
He’s the white police officer that shot and killed Eric Logan — a black man — last month. O’Neill did not have his body camera turned on during the shooting. But Mills defends O’Neill and why he didn’t have it on.
“The policy didn’t require him, at that time, to have his body camera on,” Mills said. “He was responding to a low-priority call.”
O’Neill was responding to a carjacking call. When he arrived, he saw Logan with a knife, and says Logan came after him.
“The only opportunity he had to turn on his body camera was in the few seconds he dealt with Eric Logan,” Mills said. “Either he reaches for a remote to turn on his body camera, or to draw his weapon to defend himself.”
Since then, the incident has sparked controversy, a lawsuit from Logan’s family, and national media attention. Even South Bend mayor, and 2020 presidential candidate, Pete Buttigieg has received criticism for his response to the shooting.
Mills says, for as much crime that happens in his city, Buttigieg hasn’t worked well with the police during his eight years as mayor of South Bend.
“I think there’s been over 30 shootings already this year,” Mills said. “There’s been very little relationship between the FOP and the mayor’s office, when there should’ve been tons.”
Mills added that during Buttigieg’s time as South Bend mayor, the city has become more violent.
“There’s a lack of leadership from the mayor’s office to allow police officers to do the jobs they need to do,” Mills said. “We’re criticized for absolutely every single move we make. Officers need to have the right to defend themselves. Officers need to feel they have the right to defend themselves. And they certainly need to feel that the city they work for has their back.”
Mills says he also believes Buttigieg is disconnected from the people of his own city.
“I don’t believe he really understands the community he’s living in,” Mills said. “He certainly doesn’t have a grasp on the crime and how public safety should be put at the forefront.”
As for the South Bend Police Department, Mills says they have numerous programs throughout the year to connect with the people in their city.
(Photo by: WIBC)