Claims that the South Bend Police Department abused its disciplinary process will soon be in the hands of a jury.
A former officer claims that an avalanche of allegations came down on her after she filed sexual harassment and sexual discrimination charges against the department.
Joy Phillips is suing the department for retaliation in a trial that started Monday.
Jurors first heard of a time when Joy Phillips was getting nothing but ‘attaboys’ as an officer, a hostage negotiator, and a boxing coach for inner city youth, and how quickly things changed after she filed her complaint in October of 2014.
Joy Phillips was on the South Bend force for 14 years before filing her complaint and in that time she was written up three times for alleged violations of department policy—the most severe resulted in a written reprimand.
Compare that to the year and a half period that passed after the complaint was filed when Phillips was the subject of 12 internal investigations that brought more than 50 days of suspension.
On the witness stand today Phillips talked about the time she was written up for allegedly ‘staring’ at a victim on a domestic violence call.
In another case Phillips was anxious to defend herself after being accused of acting rude and cussing at the victim of a domestic violence call—because Phillips knew the entire encounter was recorded by her squad car camera. However, Phillips testified that she was told by the internal affairs office that the recording had been lost.
The defense countered with some of the more serious charges that have been brought against Phillips like the time she negotiated with a man involved in a police standoff without contacting the on scene commander.
Furthermore, the defense contends that all this happened about the time Scott Ruszkowski took over as police chief, and put the actions of all officers under the microscope in the name of transparency.
Phillips has since left the South Bend department and is an officer in the City of Elkhart. While her new job pays less, she said she has already been promoted to detective there.
She filed a sexual harassment complaint in October of 2014 after being told about a mandatory Saturday training session officers had to attend. When Phillips asked what participants should wear a male officer said she could wear a mini-skirt and high heels.