MICHIGAN CITY — Three high-ranking officials with the Michigan City Police Department resigned Thursday morning after recent disputes with Mayor Ron Meer.
In a press release issued by the mayor's office, Meer said he met Thursday morning with Police Chief Mark Swistek and Assistant Chiefs Royce Williams and Kevin Urbanczyk. The police chiefs all tendered their resignations to the mayor; "however, they assured the mayor they will continue to serve the community as chiefs until their successors are chosen," the release said.
Meer said he accepted their resignations with regret.
"Although my resignation is made without hesitation, it is not made in haste," Swistek wrote in a separate release posted to the MCPD's Facebook page.
The mayor said in the release that he and his family have been under extreme stress and criticism since the recent arrest of his stepson. Meer's stepson, Adam Bray, 33, of Michigan City, is charged with possession of cocaine and being a felon carrying a handgun, both level 4 felonies, along with class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement. Bray was booked into the LaPorte County Jail earlier this month on a $20,000 bond.
"This morning, I apologized for my choice of words to the Chief during a private, heated discussion, and I apologize to the members for the Michigan City Police Department, especially to the detectives currently assigned to the Drug Task Force," Meer said. "I did not mean what I said to Chief Swistek, and I had no intention of reassigning any officers on the LaPorte County Drug Task Force or withdrawing the cooperation and participation of the Michigan City Police Department on said task force."
The mayor previously alleged that his stepson was targeted for arrest and it was orchestrated to try and hurt his chances for reelection in the Nov. 5 general election.
Swistek wrote that the mayor's "directive to me this evening to withdraw all cooperation and participation in the LaPorte County Drug Task Force and to reassign the officers who are currently attached to the Task Force places the Michigan City community at unacceptable risk. I am simply unable to reconcile my oath of office with your directive to withdraw our department's participation in the Task Force ..."
"Ultimately, it is to (the community) that I am truly accountable; and it is with this ultimate accountability in mind that I must resign," Swistek wrote.
Meer added, "I am committed to the health and safety of the public, and I respect the hardworking members of the Michigan City Police Department and Fraternal Order of Police and thank them and their families for their dedicated service to our community."
Once their successors are chosen, it is anticipated the three chiefs will return to their former rank within the department and will continue to serve the city as members of the Michigan City Police Department. Meer said he wants to reassure the public "there will no gap in police protection or coverage to the city during this transition."
The mayor met with representatives from the Fraternal Order of Police in the afternoon. The mayor said he, with the assistance of the President of the Michigan City Police Merit Commission as well as members from his administration, are actively working to secure successors for Swistek, Williams and Urbanczyk.