Editorial Roundup:

The (Munster) Times. December 27, 2019

Year after year, we have the honor of telling the stories of extraordinary generosity and good will that reside in abundance in Northwest Indiana – especially during the holidays.

Recent front pages of The Times were no exception as we chronicled the efforts of Region humanity at its best.

Thursday’s front page showed an adorable photo of 2-year-old Marie Mitchell receiving a candy cane in her precious hand from a volunteer at the annual Spirit of Christmas dinner in Gary.

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The event, hosted by state Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary, has become a Christmas tradition to spread giving and joy in the struggling community.

Evidence of Region giving also was very much alive on the front page of our holiday edition Tuesday and Wednesday, as carolers were shown bringing the holiday spirit to patients of Hospice of the Calumet Area.

In a priceless moment while we covered the caroling, 89-year-old Edna Kucsera reached from her hospital bed to take the hand of 5-year-old caroler Charles Espitia.

Joy and generosity aren’t complicated things to impart, and these moments captured on the front pages from this week proved it.

Simple and basic examples often lend the most lasting impressions in the lives of young and old.

It’s a reminder to all of us how easy it is to spread giving and happiness rather than vitriol and greed in our communities.

Christmas has come and gone.

The holidays soon will be over.

But the need for giving and joy won’t subside with the changing of the calendar pages.

As we head into 2020, remember the plethora of examples of generosity we’ve chronicled during the holiday season. Note the simplicity and basic nature of kindness.

And let’s resolve to remind each other to spread this joy throughout the year, not just when the holiday spirit moves us.

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South Bend Tribune. December 22, 2019

Steps forward on body cam policy for South Bend Polilce—don;t forget about transparency

Six months after a fatal police shooting revealed a lack of clarity guiding the use of body cameras, the South Bend Police Department has updated its policy.

The changes, approved Wednesday by the city’s Board of Public Safety, require supervisors to randomly inspect officers’ footage and for officers to state a reason before ending a recording. Another new provision requires an officer, before stopping a recording, to speak into the device with the reason.

The new requirements call for sergeants to randomly sample at least five videos each month from officers they supervise, and to review at least 15 minutes of footage from each subordinate three or more times per year. The sergeants are to check for discrepancies between the videos and officers’ reports, and to pass positive and negative findings up the chain of command.

The body cam policy has been under scrutiny since June, when Eric Logan, a black man, was fatally shot by a white police officer who did not have his camera activated. Two days after the shooting, at the mayor’s direction, Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski issued an order that “officers should activate their body cameras during all work-related interactions with civilians.”

Ruszkowski told the board that Wednesday’s changes provide a “another layer of oversight” by supervisors.

The additional oversight is welcome. And as we said in a comment after the shooting, it’s critical that the policy is fully understood, that the time for questions and clarifications is before an encounter, not in the aftermath of one.

Less welcome is the news that the struggles with technology continue. The department had explored adding holster sensors that activate body cameras when officers draw their weapons, but they have not been fully rolled out because the technology was not “working out as expected,” according to Ruszkowski.

Also needed, but not addressed by the approved changes: a commitment to full transparency. The city failed to provide a copy of the updated policy at Wednesday’s meeting, and later released a copy of the policy after The Tribune, at the direction of a city spokesman, filed a public-records request. This is a long-standing complaint that The Tribune has brought to the attention of city officials in the past. Instead of immediately releasing public documents that are available at public meetings to any interested citizens, the Board of Public Safety requires them to jump through hoops to obtain the information.

That’s inexcusable — especially considering the tension and mistrust that has surrounded the relationship between police and members of the community. The new policy is a step toward building trust and accountability — city officials should make sure the public is quickly informed about their efforts.

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(Terre Haute) Tribune-Star. December 27, 2019

A tourney turns 20

First Financial Wabash Valley Classic celebrates a continued hoops tradition

Players from 16 high schools from Indiana and Illinois didn’t have any extra time to get holiday visions of sugar plums out of their heads. That’s because the annual hoops frenzy in Terre Haute known as the First Financial Bank Wabash Valley Classic tipped off Thursday morning.

The tournament has grown in tradition through the years and is an event highly anticipated by teams and fans alike.

The venue rotates between Terre Haute’s larger high schools — North Vigo and South Vigo — with this year’s tourney at North. The host Patriots even played the opening game Thursday morning, defeating an Edgewood team in a tight game. And that was only the start. Seven other games would follow.

The classic tourney began in 2000 with founders envisioning a tournament in the image of the old Wabash Valley Tournament that ran from 1916 to 1972. There would be 16 teams from schools large and small competing in a multi-day tourney between Christmas and New Year’s.

The dream of a successful tournament came true for those founders. The 20th Classic is an extra special one in that marks two decades of thrilling action and memories of big upsets, heart-pounding victories, and championship glory.

It should be noted that there are some very good teams in this tournament, several of which are undefeated coming in. The stakes are high and the action will be nonstop.

Teams vying for the crown this year were Indiana schools Terre Haute North, Terre Haute South, Edgewood, South Vermillion, Sullivan, Northview, Parke Heritage, Riverton Parke, Cloverdale, Shakamak, Linton, Owen Valley and West Vigo, and Casey, Robinson and Marshall from Illinois.

Consolation games resume early today, with games between Thursday’s winners intermingled.

Final rounds will take place on Saturday and Monday, with the championship game set for 7:30 Monday evening.

It’s been a terrific 20 years for the Classic and we stand to applaud all those who founded the tournament and all those who keep it going strong year after year.

Here’s to 20 more.

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