ELKHART, Ind. (AP) — A northern Indiana police chief who downplayed the beating of a handcuffed suspect by two officers and faced other controversies over discipline has resigned, saying in a letter that he’s “not perfect.”
Elkhart Police Chief Ed Windbigler said Monday in his letter that Mayor Tim Neese had asked him to resign and noted “the intense scrutiny of the media and politicians” in recent weeks.
“I admit that I am not perfect and have made mistakes, but I always tried to make sure we were making decisions that would be best for the department,” Windbigler wrote.
The South Bend Tribune published a story Sunday about an officer with a drunken-driving conviction who was promoted and never disciplined. The newspaper and ProPublica have been cooperating on a series of stories about Elkhart County’s justice system that raised questions about the department.
Neese had placed Windbigler on 30-day suspension last month after the release of a video showing the beating of a handcuffed suspect. Officers Cory Newland and Joshua Titus were charged with misdemeanor battery in that beating and placed on administrative leave.
The South Bend Tribune and ProPublica have reported that disciplinary actions dropped sharply after Windbigler became police chief in 2016, and that most of the department’s supervisors have prior disciplinary records. They also reported that Windbigler had promoted 18 supervisors with disciplinary records.
Neese, who confirmed Windbigler’s resignation Monday night, called his move to seek new police leadership “a difficult decision.” He said assistant chief Todd Thayer would continue to serve as interim chief until a permanent replacement is named.