Michigan City Council members welcome new police chief, slam mayor’s news release

MICHIGAN CITY — City council members wished new police chief Steven Forker well, but criticized Mayor Duane Parry for his handling of the announcement.

Forker, a 17-year veteran, has served as a detective, patrol officer, school resource officer and public information officer. “I got my hands on a lot of different things within the police department,” he told the board last week.

Deputy Chief Marty Coley will continue as Chief Operating Officer. Deputy Chief Dave Cooney is now Chief of Services.

“We’re working as a team to make this city great,” Forker said. “I believe the police department is going to play a big role in the growth of this town.”

Forker replaces Dion Campbell. In a press release announcing the decision, Parry criticized Campbell’s leadership without naming him.

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“After a thorough examination of the excessive number of officers leaving the Michigan City Police Department and the impact this is having on our city, as well as the ever-increasing number of gun incidents and shootings fires fired all over the city, I feel the changes within the police department. are needed,” Parry said.

“As mayor, I am confident that a change in Michigan City’s policing policy, coupled with a much more vigilant effort to address gun violence in our community, driven by a change in leadership, will overcome these problems successfully,” Parry said.

Councilman Bryant Dabney, among others, congratulated the new police department chiefs. “They serve at the request of the mayor,” he said.

However, Dabney criticized Parry.

“That press release that I saw, I thought he was trying to blame himself and not be accountable to himself,” Dabney said.

He reminded attendees of the Flock system of license plate readers and gunshot detectors that Campbell asked the board to approve.

Dabney also noted that Campbell met the public at churches and elsewhere, something he doesn’t recall seeing other police chiefs do.

“The State of Indiana is not helping us, as we well know,” by eliminating the need for permits to carry guns in public despite police testimony from across Indiana against the legislation.

Now there is pressure on the new leader because Parry said his appointment will reduce shootings in the city. “It’s a tough bar,” Dabney said.

Councilman Don Przybylinski, D-At-large, thanked Campbell “for his service, for his commitment to Michigan City, for his compassion, for trying to make Michigan City a great community.”

“These things don’t work overnight,” he said. There are a lot of shots being fired in the city, Przybylinski said, so if anyone has a suggestion they should approach the council or the police department, he said. “I haven’t seen anyone do that yet.”

At Forker, Przybylinski said, “I have all the respect in the world for you as the new leader. I will support the police department and the leadership team as I have since I started on this board.

“Officers need to have a safe working environment so they can return home safely to their families. This is my #1 priority.

Przybylinski discovered the change when he came home from a high school football game. His wife had read it on Facebook. “We’re supposed to be the city’s management team, but we learn on FB from people who talk both ways,” he said.

“Show us some respect, that you agree with our philosophies,” he said. “In this case, I don’t think it was done.”

Councilman Gene Simmons, D-6, thanked Campbell for his service and commitment. Simmons, a former police chief, praised Forker and offered his support.

“I was also embarrassed by how I heard about it,” Simmons said. “At the very least, the mayor could have warned our president. But (Parry) chose to take a different route as usual. All I can say is that it was not done professionally.

Council Speaker Angie Deuitch, D-At-large, continued the mayor’s criticism.

“I found out while having dinner because everyone was texting me while having dinner,” she said. “The way it was handled is terrible.”

“He’s wanted to get rid of Chief Dion for some time,” Deuitch said. “The mayor is petty. We know he is petty.

“If we have a dysfunction within the city or within the police department, he hasn’t helped the situation by doing it this way,” she said.

“I just want to thank Dion for his service and everything he does in the future. He will land firmly on his feet,” she said.

Councilman Paul Przybylinski, D-2nd, said he looks forward to working with Forker and moving in a new direction. “I believe in this new direction we could achieve security through force,” he said.

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