The For-Profit Contractor Behind Troubled Policing In Pete Buttigieg’s South Bend

Tara Golshan
Pete Buttigieg addresses newly sworn-in police officers during a ceremony on June 19, 2019, at the South Bend Police Department.

In the days after Eric Logan, a 54-year-old African American man, was shot and killed by a police officer in South Bend, Indiana, last summer, it became clear the city’s law enforcement policies had failed.

The police officer who killed Logan was wearing a body camera, an initiative instituted under then-Mayor Pete Buttigieg. But the camera was off. The city’s policy didn’t specifically mandate officers turn their cameras on. Immediately after, the city issued a clarification: Officers should turn the cameras on during all “work-related interactions.”

Any day now, the city will hear from the special prosecutor appointed to investigate the shooting whether the officer, who has since resigned, will face charges.

The unusually long investigation has frustrated the South Bend community. South Bend residents might not have had to wait nine months for answers if the officer’s body camera had been on.

Why it wasn’t can in part be traced back to Lexipol, a California-based for-profit contractor that has shaped how small and midsize cities like South Bend conduct law enforcement. The company offers prewritten police manuals, which are the main way cities legally regulate police behavior on the ground. Lexipol has a reputation for pushing back against stricter policing standards in its manuals, whether around body cameras or when it’s appropriate for officers to use force.

South Bend contracted with Lexipol in 2015, paying $94,770 for a rewrite of its police manual. Buttigieg’s presidential campaign platform is progressive on policing; it calls for raising the legal standards for officers to justify using lethal force in favor of deescalation policies and supporting departments that emphasize community involvement in policing. But his vision for policing in America isn’t in line with what happened in South Bend.

When Buttigieg has had to answer for his record on policing and race relations, he has emphasized a number of initiatives: an online “