SOUTH BEND -- Two weeks after a phone recording scandal at the South Bend Police Department was revealed, few details remain known about the federal investigation.
The city of South Bend responded Friday to a Freedom of Information Act request by The Tribune seeking the "factual basis" about the firing of former 911 communications director Karen DePaepe and the demotion of former Police Chief Darryl Boykins.
Indiana's Public Access Counselor said Friday it appears the city is fulfilling its legal obligation in regards to the information released about DePaepe's firing earlier this week. However, public access counselor Joe Hoage said the city should provide more information into the factual basis that led Boykins to be demoted last month to captain, related to the FBI probe of the recordings.
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, meanwhile, announced Friday that the Police Department was now fully compliant with the Federal Wiretap Act.
In response to a FOIA request seeking the factual basis of DePaepe's termination, the city responded in a letter -- under a category titled rule(s) violated -- that it was because of violation of policy 21 4.2: conduct unbecoming a city employee.
A separate category listed as "details and circumstances," of the dismissal had been covered by black marker.
Hoage, though, said that response appears to be compliant with what is required by the state's public access laws.
"It doesn't need to be full of details," he said. "As long as they have a simple statement as far as why the employee is no longer employed by the city."
Regarding Boykins, the city responded Friday by stating the only records containing the basis of the demotions were three news releases by the mayor's office on March 29, 30 and 31.
There was no reason given in any of the releases as to why Boykins was demoted. It only states there was a federal investigation related to the practice of recording phone calls within the Police Department that was "out of compliance with federal guidelines."
Hoage said the city should "clarify" the reason Boykins was demoted. Boykins resigned on March
29, but rescinded his resignation the next day, which prompted Buttigieg to relieve Boykins of his duties.
"You may not be able to pull it directly from a record, but you still have to provide that information," Hoage said. "They're required to provide some sort of factual basis."
Interim city attorney Aladean M. DeRose did not return a message seeking comment Friday.
DePaepe, meanwhile, was fired on Tuesday after she declined to resign.
She said she was fired over tapes of phone records she uncovered merely by chance.
"All I tried to do was save the city from embarrassment, when I discovered something accidentally," she said earlier this week. "My intentions were to just protect the city and the Police Department.
"And nobody asked my side of it. Nobody asked me anything. They just fired me."
DePaepe's attorney, Scott Duerring, said Friday that a wrongful termination lawsuit was "very likely."
"She's done nothing wrong, and I think this is a way for the city administration to put the blame on someone they believe probably could be intimidated and just go away," Duerring told WSBT.
"They want her to stay quiet, and they want it to go away."
Buttigieg, meanwhile, said his office has alerted the U.S. Attorney's Office that it was now in compliance with the wiretap act.
"Those issues have been corrected, and I now consider the matter closed," he said in a statement.
Staff writer Jeff Harrell contributed to this report.