Firing of a Black Police Chief

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POLICE TAPES

IN HIS OWN WORDS: On Tapes https://www.meetpete.org/3oDLSWsLc18.html?time=3699 Pete discusses this issue in the CNN Town Hall:

"The reason I don't know (what is on the recordings) is these tape recordings were made in a way that violated the Federal Wiretap Act. That is a federal law that controls when you can and can't record people," Buttigieg said. "That's a law punishable by a term in prison and so I'm not going to violate it, even though I want to know what's on those tapes like everybody else does."

www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2019/04/23/pete-buttigieg-police-chief-sot-vpx.cnn On why he fired the police chief: “In fact, making such recordings or disclosing their contents can be a felony . . . The recorded officers knew it, and complained to federal authorities, who took the issue seriously. So that’s how it came to be that, a few weeks into the job of mayor, I learned that my newly re-appointed police chief was being investigated by the FBI. Eventually the message came through . . . the people responsible for the covert recordings needed to go, or charges might be filed.” Shortest Way Home, page 275. On not being able to release the tapes: “The entire crisis was the result of the fact that the recordings were allegedly made in violation of the law. Under the Federal Wiretap Act, this meant that it could be a felony not just to make the recordings, but to reproduce and disclose them. Like everyone else in the community, I wanted to know what was on these recordings, But it was potentially illegal for me to find out, and it was not clear I could even aske, without fear of legal repercussions.” Shortest Way Home, page 277.

On learning and growing from the experience: “The most important lessons of this painful episode were not about the finer points of federal wiretapping laws, but about the deeply fraught relationship between law enforcement and communities of color. This issue, previously an abstraction for me, was now hitting home. Ferguson and everything that followed in the black Lives Matter movement came after the tapes controversy exploded it locally, but their urgency grew from the same root: the fact that many of the wort historical injustices visited upon black citizens of our country came at the hands of local law enforcement. Like an original sin this basic fact burdens every police officer, no matter how good, and every neighborhood of color, no matter how safe, to this day . . . Like so many police officer and Americans of color dealing with the long reach of such past wrongs--and the present-day wrongs that flow from their legacy--I found myself answering not only for myself but for history.” Shortest Way Home, page 278.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Josh Lederman: “I asked @PeteButtigieg whether in retrospect he would have handled police chief scandal differently. He says he demoted the chief because he learned from FBI, not him, that chief was under criminal investigation. Says he hasn’t second-guessed that decision” https://twitter.com/JoshNBCNews/status/1119322688705708033

JOURNALISM: WSBT South Bend 4/15: SB police tapes case in national spotlight https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysCeWN65Tss&feature=youtu.be CNN He said he had focused on making sure South Bend was complying with federal law -- but noted that wasn't what many people in South Bend were passionate about. "For a lot of people, this wasn't about the nuances of the Wiretap Act," he said. "This was about whether they could trust their police department." https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/23/politics/south-bend-tapes-ruling/index.html

FACTS: Releasing the tapes to the public would have violated federal law. The taping itself occurred before he was sworn in and his decision to fire the people being investigated was based on information from the FBI.