Frustration over how flags are flying at South Bend Police Depar - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Frustration over how flags are flying at South Bend Police Dept


There is some frustration over how the flags are flying at the South Bend Police Department.

The Department lowered them to half staff Monday in honor of an officer who died last week.

Tuesday, the American Flag and the Indiana State Flag were raised back up, upsetting some police officers who said it wasn't long enough.

FOP 36 President Sergeant Dan Demler said the police department's flag is still at half staff in honor of Sgt. Mark Szweda, but the issue is with the American Flag.

Szweda died last week while off duty.  All flags at the South Bend Police Department were lowered to half staff Monday.  Demler said a veteran's group called asking why the American flag was lowered and after that it went back up.

Demler said he then saw several comments from people upset about the flag being at full staff. So, he asked the police department about it and was told it's all about protocol. "Protocol is for these types of situations, the National flag can only be lowered to half staff if ordered by the Mayor, Governor, or the president and that hasn't happened so the national flag had to go back up," said Demler.

Sgt. Demler said he understands and respects protocol but in his heart he'd like to see the flag lowered to show respect for Sgt. Szweda. "Bottom line is Mark served 18 years on the police department, 18 years knowing everyday he goes to work he may lose his life.  I think as a gesture of goodwill if you will or just recognizing the fact that he's put that much time on or had he not died this untimely death he'd still be putting that time on, to lower the flag even just to the funeral would be fair I think, it would be very respectful."

Sgt. Demler said the part of the reason people may be getting so upset over this now is because department has lost several officers since 1997 and for every one the flag has been lowered to half staff, but this time around they're following protocol.

Szweda was found dead in his home last week.  An autopsy was performed but authorities said they don't think foul play is involved in his death.  A memorial mass will be held this Saturday.

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