Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg conceded on Thursday that he had failed to make progress on diversifying the South Bend, Ind. police department as the city’s mayor.
“I couldn’t get it done,” Buttigieg said, acknowledging that the department’s staff doesn’t reflect the city’s black residents.
Buttigieg has been dogged in recent weeks over his handling of the police department in South Bend after a police officer shot a black man, Eric Logan, earlier this month. Buttigieg left the campaign trail to respond to the shooting, but has been criticized by activists in the city.
Asked during the second night of Democrat primary debates why South Bend’s police department is 90 percent white when 27 percent of the city’s residents are black, Buttigieg blamed himself.
“My community is in anguish because of an officer-involved shooting,” he said. “Eric Logan, killed by a white officer, and I’m not allowed to take sides until the investigation comes back. The officer didn't have his body camera on. It's a mess. We are hurting.”
Buttigieg’s apologies and self-reflections were not satisfactory for some on stage. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) called for Buttigieg to fire South Bend’s police chief because the officer who shot Logan didn’t have his body camera on. And former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper asked Buttigieg what had taken him so long to deal with the department’s race issues.
“We have taken so many steps towards police accountability that the [police union] denounced me for too much accountability, and I accept responsibility for that because I'm in charge,” Buttigieg said.