SOUTH BEND – Just 5 years ago, he was Police Officer of the Year in South Bend.
Now, he could be fired from the force.
The city’s Board of Public Safety on Tuesday held a hearing about Officer Chris Bortone.
Bortone, a 10-year South Bend police veteran, is accused of not filing a police report after investigating a theft on March 31 at the Meijer store on Portage Road and then lying about it.
Bortone became the focus of an internal investigation this summer when it was discovered he failed to make a police report after a man was caught on surveillance video stealing an expensive vacuum and other items from the store.
Bortone has been on paid administrative leave since the end of June.
During a special hearing on Tuesday, 9 witnesses testified for the city. Among them was Lt. Lee Ross, who says there’s no doubt in his mind Bortone should have filed a report.
“He had enough to make a report,” said Ross.
After a lengthy investigation, Interim Police Chief Chuck Hurley is recommending Bortone be fired. Hurley testified Bortone repeatedly lied about why he didn’t make a report and that his credibility has been shot.
“One of the major components you have as a police officer that you have to possess is credibility,” said Hurley.
Hurley was asked, “And you don’t think he’s credible.” “No, I don’t,” he replied.
Bortone told the board he has been truthful through the whole process.
“At any time, were you untruthful during that investigation?,” questioned Bortone’s attorney. “No,” Bortone responded.
But he did admit he was wrong in not making a report.
“Take a report, no matter what,” said Bortone. “Just to have something on paper whether they want it or not. That way, you can say that you have it there, and if you want to add more later, you can always add to it.”
Chief Hurley has also recommended Bortone be fired because of his past history, adding that Bortone has been suspended multiple times in the past several years.
The South Bend Board of Public Safety is expected to release its decision on what should happen to Bortone in January.
If he’s fired, he can appeal through the courts.