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There’s Something On These Secret Police Tapes That Pete Buttigieg Doesn’t Want Released

AP Photo/Joe Raymond

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is officially a candidate for the 2020 Democratic nomination. You wouldn’t think that a mayor of a small city would be in contention, but he’s at the top. His star has been rising since rumblings of his campaign moves were reported. He raised more money than better-known progressives, like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). He’s in the top five in terms of those filling their war chests. He’s apparently been well received in Iowa. So, with the 2020 Democratic clown car getting bigger, how do you thin the heard? Well, you attack and it seems the opposition research firms are doing their best in trying to create a race problem for Buttigieg. It deals with the demotion of the city’s first black police chief (via The Hill):

An Indiana judge will rule soon on whether to release five cassette tapes of secretly recorded conversations between South Bend police officers that led to the 2012 demotion of Police Chief Darryl Boykins, the city’s first ever black police chief.

The South Bend City Council subpoenaed Buttigieg to win release of the tapes, which were at the center of a police department shake-up and a series of lawsuits.

Buttigieg’s critics say he’s gone to great lengths to conceal the contents of the tapes, which some believe could include racist language by white police officers. 

There is roiling anger in South Bend over the allegations of racism. Black leaders in the city say that if there is evidence of racism, it could call into question scores of convictions that stemmed from white police officers investigating black suspects in a city that is 25 percent black.


Buttigieg’s defenders say he’s not trying to conceal the tapes, but rather is seeking to ensure that releasing the recordings does not run afoul of federal or state wiretapping laws. No one in the mayor’s office has listened to the recordings, sources say.


In 2011, Karen DePaepe, a 25-year veteran of the South Bend Police Department in charge of the dispatch and communications center, informed Boykins that the desk phone line for Detective Bryan Young was being taped. 

A previous police chief had authorized taping the phone line because the detective at the time didn’t want to miss any possible tips. Boykins allowed the taping, now on Young’s phone line, to continue but did not inform the detective that his calls were being recorded.

About a year later, shortly after Buttigieg had been elected to his first term in office at the age of 29, DePaepe discovered recordings on the line that she said revealed racist remarks and a potential criminal conspiracy between officers.

Of course, the officers in the recordings weren’t happy. The Hill added that they went to the FBI, feeling the recordings were illegal and demanded an investigation. Buttigieg learned of the probe in 2012. The publication wrote that the mayor was more than a bit ticked that he was not told that the line to Boykins was tapped. He reportedly was going to keep Boykins as the city’s top cop, but after learning about the investigation, fired him. There was a back and forth, Boykins thought that Buttigieg had fired him on the recommendation of the U.S. Attorney’s office. That was not the case. He was eventually reinstated but as a captain. Buttigieg also fired DePaepe. And then, the lawsuits began:

Boykins sued the city for racial discrimination, arguing that the taping policy existed under previous police chiefs, who were white.

In a court filing, Boykins argued that Buttigieg had used the taping scandal as an excuse to get rid of him. Boykins said that since Buttigieg had been elected, the top three ranking African-American officials in the city had retired, been forced out or demoted. The men who replaced them, Boykins said, were white.

“The Mayor seized the ‘tape scandal’ to make a clean sweep of the heretofore African American leadership in South Bend,” Boykins’s tort claim says.

DePaepe sued for wrongful termination, claiming the recordings under wraps contained “racially derogatory statements relating to other ranking officers” and a plot to convince the new mayor to oust Boykins.

A third lawsuit was filed by a group of four police officers and one officer’s wife, who said they had been illegally recorded and defamed.

The city settled with everyone. Boykins received $75,000, DePaepe got $235,000 and the group of officers received $500,000.

Then, the city council sued for the tapes over these allegations, which haven’t hurt the mayor. He was re-elected with 80 percent of the vote. Yet, that’s a tiny slice of Indiana. How this all plays out with a larger, more left-wing base that adheres to an authoritarian and politically correct ethos is another issue. Here’s Ed’s take over at Hot Air who first blogged the story. He thinks Buttigieg should be “flattered”:

He’s getting treated like a serious candidate by at least one rival campaign with an oppo research team that knows what it’s doing. We’ll see if the media bites hard on the secret tapes of South Bend now that Buttigieg has officially entered the race, or better yet, whether Trump himself starts taking potshots at Buttigieg over them. Republicans can pass the popcorn in the meantime as Democrats play for keeps in the primary, but they’d better be prepared to face off against the Democratic Thunderdome survivor.

The 'he said, they said' game is about to end on these tapes one way or another. For what it's worth, Buttigieg says firing Boykins was a mistake. So, at the very least, he acknowledges that this could look bad with 'woke' primary voters. 

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