ELKHART — On his first day in charge of the Elkhart Police Department, new Chief Chris Snyder said he would bring a new focus on transparency and accountability to the public, after his predecessor was forced to resign amid controversies over misconduct and discipline in the police force.
Mayor Tim Neese swore in Snyder Monday afternoon in a conference room lined with supporters and fellow officers, less than a month after former chief Ed Windbigler stepped down at the mayor’s request.
On Monday, Snyder said the department under his command would be quick to publicly acknowledge mistakes and misconduct.
“The community … has made it abundantly clear that they want transparency and accountability, and that is what they are going to get, starting today and moving forward,” Snyder said. In cases of wrongdoing by officers, he said, “we will be bringing it to the public, as opposed to waiting for the public to come get it from us.”
Snyder — a 21-year Elkhart police veteran who most recently served as a homicide detective — takes over after a tumultuous two months for the department, and at a time of transition for the city. A week after Windbigler resigned as chief, Neese abandoned his 2019 re-election campaign. The former chief’s resignation and Neese’s decision not to seek another term came after a series of revelations about discipline in the police ranks and how Windbigler dealt with misconduct.
In November, the city released a video showing two Elkhart police officers repeatedly punching a handcuffed man in the face in January 2018, and announced the officers were being charged with battery — 10 months after the fact and weeks after The Tribune, in partnership with nonprofit news agency ProPublica, asked for the video.