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South Bend police chief, mayor spar on job status

– South Bend’s embattled police chief rescinded his resignation Friday. The move came a day after the city’s mayor said the chief had quit his post amid an investigation into possible wiretapping of police department phones.

Darryl Boykins’ attorney, Tom Dixon, read a letter during a public meeting at the Martin Luther King Center saying that Boykins had withdrawn his resignation. Dixon also said his client had been coerced into resigning.

“The resignation was forced. It wasn’t something the chief came to on his own. It was done under duress and under threats against him and his career,” Dixon said.

Debra Johnson, spokeswoman for Mayor Pete Buttigieg, said Boykins’ letter would have no effect and that the mayor stands by his comments that Boykins, who had been police chief since late 2007, was relieved of his duties as chief and assigned the rank of captain as of 5 p.m. Friday.

Buttigieg said Thursday that he had known since January about an investigation into the department’s recording of phone calls. He told WSBT-TV Friday morning that he has not heard the tapes that apparently captured illegally recorded conversations and prompted a federal probe.

But Buttigieg told the station he could not legally say anything about the investigation, except to members of the city council.

“I’m happy to communicate to the council about my reason. I think once they understand the situation and choice I had to make, they will understand I had to make changes,” he said.

Mary Hatton, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in northern Indiana, said the office wouldn’t comment on the investigation.

South Bend Common Council President Derek Dieter and members Karen White and Oliver Davis support Boykins. They said they only found out about the federal investigation through media reports that surfaced Thursday night and are upset with Buttigieg for not telling them about it.

“To equate this investigation with the resignation of the chief gives the implication that the chief is guilty,” Davis said

Dieter, who’s also a city police officer, drafted a letter that he hoped all nine council members would sign – six of them have. It asks the mayor to allow Boykins to remain police chief.

Buttigieg has tapped Chuck Hurley, a former police chief who’s currently St. Joseph County deputy coroner, to serve as South Bend police chief until a permanent replacement is named.