Councilwoman Valerie Schey unhappy with private meeting schedule - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Councilwoman Valerie Schey unhappy with private meeting scheduled to discuss Park Rangers and their firearms

Park Rangers work under the Parks and Recreation Department Park Rangers work under the Parks and Recreation Department
The attempt to know why it was decided South Bend Park Rangers could no longer carry their firearms while on duty continues. South Bend Common Councilwoman Valerie Schey asked the City this question when the change went into effect on July 1.

She asked the Mayor's Office for an explanation but did not hear back from Deputy Mayor Mark Neal until her second letter to him. On Wednesday, Neal told Schey they could meet on Monday to discuss the issue, but it would be in a private meeting.

"I am a little disappointed,” Schey said. “I think this is a matter of public policy that has an impact not only on our City employees, but clearly on our residents as well."

A spokesperson from the City says because there is no bill or ordinance being proposed and Schey is making an inquiry as to why the change was made, the issue will not be discussed during the Common Council meeting on Monday,

This news also did not sit well with Jesse Davis. He has been attending Common Council meetings for the last five years. He believes Park Rangers should carry guns and the public should be able to voice their opinion on the topic.

"It should be open door, transparent so that the public does have a say,” Davis said. “None of this behind the doors let's meet and decide."

David Hancock is a former South Bend Park Police Officer. Now called Park Rangers, he has been working with Schey to discuss the need for the employees to have a firearm. Hancock also questioned Monday's private meeting.

"My concern would be the reasoning for a private meeting instead of answering the Council's questions or citizen's questions in a public forum," Hancock said.

Deputy Mayor Neal was unavailable on Sunday to make a comment. He is scheduled to meet with Schey at 2:30pm on Monday,

It's not that I'm looking for a bill or an ordinance to come from this, what I'm looking for is the rationale as to why we made that decision in the first place," Schey said.

The City's spokesperson says the change was made because Park Rangers don't go through the same training as police officers. The spokesperson also added code inspectors and animal care and control officers routinely go into vacant homes and these employees do not carry guns.

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