Michigan City, IN – The three highest-ranking members of the Michigan City Police Department (MCPD) resigned from their positions this week, following a “private heated conversation” with the city’s mayor.
Mayor Ron Meer’s stepson was recently arrested on drug and weapons charges by a multiagency task force that included members of the MCPD, according to Michigan City Police Chief Mark Swistek’s resignation letter.
Meer subsequently accused the task force and the county prosecutor of orchestrating his stepson’s arrest as a political ploy ahead of the upcoming mayoral election, WSBT reported.
On Tuesday, Chief Swistek and MCPD Assistant Chiefs Kevin Urbanczyk and Royce Williams all resigned their positions following a “private heated conversation” with Meer, the mayor told the news outlet.
“Your directive to me this evening to withdraw all cooperation and participation in the La Porte County Drug Task Force and to reassign the officers who are currently attached to the Task Force placed the Michigan City community at unacceptable risk,” Chief Swistek wrote in his resignation letter.
“I am simply unable to reconcile my oath of office with your directive for me to withdraw our Department’s participation in the Task Force, reassign the talented and committed members of the [MCPD] who are currently serving the unit with the utmost integrity, dedication and professionalism asked of them,” the chief added.
Chief Swistek noted that La Porte County, which includes Michigan City, has been designated as a “High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area,” and that the creation of the joint task force took “years of effort.”
“I do not know whether your decision is related to your step-son’s recent arrest by the Task Force,” the chief told Meer in the letter. “But I do know that your decision is not in the interest of public safety.”
“For the first time in my law enforcement career, I am unable to serve both my mayor on the one hand, and on the other, the people of Michigan City and my brothers and sisters in law enforcement,” Chief Swistek continued. “I am therefore forced to choose who I will continue to serve. Without hesitation, I choose the latter.”
The 27-year veteran-of-the-force noted that his resignation was effective immediately, and that he would continue to serve MCPD at the rank of lieutenant.
Meer released a statement about the chief and assistant chiefs’ resignations on Thursday, and said that all three officers have agreed to “continue to serve the community as chiefs until their successors are chosen.”
They will then return to their former ranks, and will all remain with the department.
Meer said that he and his family “have been under extreme stress and criticism” since his stepson’s arrest.
“I apologized for my choice of words to the Chief during a private heated discussion, and I apologize to the members of the [MPD], especially to the detectives currently assigned to the Drug Task Force,” the mayor wrote.
“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 [MCPD] on said task force,” he added.
Meer later said that he “probably could have” addressed his concerns with the chief “more professionally and in a different manner,” but noted that he already apologized to the “upper echelon of the administration” who “felt insulted” by his words, WNDU reported.
The Michigan City municipal general elections will take place on Nov. 5.