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Short Staffed SBPD Fires Injured Officer On Road to Recovery

Officer Justin Tidey — Photo: Facebook

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — REAL News Michiana has learned the South Bend Police Department fired an officer who was injured in the line of duty. The officer, who has not been fit for duty for several months, is on the path to a full recovery and was expected to be physically cleared in August. The SBPD is currently short staffed by dozens of officers.

The South Bend Board of Public Safety voted to uphold SBPD Chief Scott Ruszkowski’s recommendation to terminate Patrolman First Class Justin Tidey, last week. The board is completely composed of appointed officials made by the South Bend Mayor. Tidey has had no discipline issues in his entire career.

Tidey injured his knee in October of 2020 while doing crowd control at a homicide scene. The crowd became unruly. Tidey was preventing one person from crossing into the crime scene. During a scuffle, he severely injured his knee.

According to Department of Public Safety documents, Tidey was sent to several doctors for examination and physical therapy for more than a year. All of this was done through workers comp. And, none of the doctors found any major damage through MRI’s and other, non-invasive means.

In December of 2021, Tidey used his own insurance to independently have an orthopedist perform a diagnostic arthroscopy. That procedure discovered damage that was not found by the other doctors and surgery was immediately performed to repair damage to Tidey’s ACL in his knee. Tidey is now on the road to a full recovery, and is expected to be able to physically perform the job of a police officer by August or September of this year.

Tidey did have a previous injury to his shoulder that was also caused in the line of duty. That injury also required surgery and light duty assignments for a period of several months.

REAL News Michiana reached out to Chief Ruszkowski to get a comment about the termination and the department’s staffing issues. Ruszkowski did not respond. In August of 2021, Chief Ruszkowski reported the department was short approximately 20 officers.

Tidey had been an officer with SBPD since 2018. He tells RNM, while he’d prefer to continue to be a police officer, he is now exploring jobs in public education and coaching football. Tidey played football in high school and Rugby in college.

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