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Office of the Mayor


January 14, 2015
In January 2012, a few weeks after taking office, I learned of a situation in which police officers
were allegedly recorded in violation of the Federal Wiretap Act. Cassette tapes were made of
these recordings. I did not then, and do not now, know what is on those tapes.
Because of rumors about the content of the recordings, I came under enormous pressure to
release these cassette tapes. The Common Council issued a subpoena to try to force the
administration to give them copies of the tapes. We did not do so, because I was concerned that
doing so might be illegal. Instead, we turned to the courts.
Today, a federal judge confirmed our concerns. The judge issued a decision that the recordings
made after February 4, 2011 are illegal under the Act and prohibited from disclosure. This
means that there is no way to satisfy all the Councils demands without breaking federal law.
Todays ruling makes it clear that all but one of the cassette recordings created by former Chief
Boykins and Ms. DePaepe, and subpoenaed by Common Council, were illegal and violated the
Wiretap Act. Making them was illegal. Listening to them would be illegal. Copying them would
be illegal. And disclosing them would be illegal.
Under this decision, the only exception that we are aware of is one conversation allegedly
recorded on February 4, 2011, on one cassette, referred to in footnote 2 of the decision. Our
attorneys will be reviewing this to confirm how it can be lawfully and promptly turned over to
the Council.
I do not see this as a matter of the administration winning or the Council losing. It is helpful to
know that we did not waste everyones time and money by resisting pressure to do something
The toughest thing about this situation is that people in the community will remain curious about
what is on the tapes. I am curious too. But we cannot violate federal law just to satisfy our
And we must remember that listening to the tapes would not have completely answered
community concerns.

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The truth is that this is not just about some cassette tapes. This is about issues much deeper, and
those issues deserve to be taken seriously. Communities across America are struggling with deep
concerns about the role of race in the criminal justice system. And as long as there is mistrust
between members of our community and the men and women in uniform whose job is to keep us
all safe, we have work to do.
The fact that some people believe police officers in this community are capable of racismeven
the existence of that perceptionis itself something that we must address, and we have to do it
We know that there are police officers who serve every day with courage and integrity, risking
their lives to keep us safe. We also know that some in the community do not feel they can trust
the police. Our entire country is facing that problem, and South Bend is no exception.
No one can rest until there is both a perception and an undisputed reality that racial bias is not
practiced or tolerated anywhere, especially on our police force.
Moving toward that future will not be easy. But I am committed to doing whatever it takes to
make that happen. All of usadministration, Council members, community leaders, police
officers, faith community, neighbors, even the mediaall of us have to work together on this so
that we can share a life of safety, justice, and harmony.