Elkhart taxpayers could soon be paying for mayor's investigation into own department

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Elkhart city taxpayers could soon be paying for an investigation into their own police department.

Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese announced yesterday he is seeking an independent review, but he would need the city council to approve funding.

City Council member David Henke says he expects it to cost between $50,000 and $150,000.

The mayor does not yet have specific details about the investigation.

Henke says if it restores the public's trust, it's worth the money.

The spotlight has been on the department since a video was released of two officers hitting a handcuffed man.

The Indiana State Police declined to conduct an independent investigation of the department.

Mayor Tim Neese says he has reached out to the Department of Justice several times but has not heard back, so now, he is seeking his own investigation.

Council member David Henke says he believes a majority of the council is in favor of that idea, because the public has questions that need answered.

“Information was withheld,” said Henke. “Information was understated, and it came to an inappropriate outcome. That tells me it’s on the mayor to develop the action necessary to restore the trust and honest communication.”

The mayor is currently working on getting proposals from different independent groups to see how much a review would cost.

The mayor also announced yesterday that Chief Ed Windbigler will return to work on December 17th.

The mayor suspended Windbigler for 30 days without pay for not promptly notifying the mayor of the incident in the video and for understating the severity of the incident to the police merit commission.

When Windbigler returns to the department, the mayor says Windbigler will work with the independent entity conducting the review.

WSBT 22 asked the mayor's office for clarification on what Windbigler's involvement would be. In an email, WSBT was told Windbigler will assist with gathering information regarding the policies and practices at the police department.

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