Merit commission approves promotion of police officer with DUI

Brandan Roundtree

ELKHART — Members of the Police Merit Commission unanimously approved the promotion of a police officer to detective Monday, despite his conviction in Hamilton County on a misdemeanor drunken driving charge. 

Cpl. Brandan Roundtree, who pleaded guilty to the charge in August 2017 and was convicted, was previously promoted to detective although the commission was not notified as required. The role of the merit commission is to approve all promotions, demotions and discipline in the department.  

Police Chief Ed Windbigler, who is serving a 30-day unpaid suspension, promoted Roundtree in June this year.

"There was an error. It was something that fell through the cracks. That's all it was. It didn't get to them," Thayer said. "In no way was it a cover-up. It was a mistake and an error, and if you think we're free from errors you're far from the truth."

Thayer said it's not unusual for police officers with similar issues in the past to have successful careers.

"That's very common," Thayer said. "It happens all the time in any police department across the country. Our officers are human beings. They make mistakes, they pay the price for them and they move on."

As Windbigler had done previously when notifying the commission of the arrest, Thayer questioned what had happened in Hamilton County in March 2017. 

"We question the whole process down there, how that arrest took place. We wouldn't have handled it that way in our community for a DUI," Thayer said, though he declined to be more specific. 

Roundtree, who was hired by the Elkhart Police Department in June 2008, was never disciplined for the incident. 

"For what?" Thayer said. 

Police Merit Commission President James Rieckhoff said he believes the police administration — that the failure to inform the commission of the promotion was an error.

"I have no reason to believe otherwise," he said.

When asked whether punitive action might  be taken towards the police department for failing to notify the commission of the promotion, Rieckhoff deferred to Mayor Tim Neese.

"The mayor is ultimately responsible for every city department, so there could be actions taken by the mayor. The merit commission simply acts on what's presented to it," Rieckhoff said.

Rieckhoff said a request for a promotion for Roundtree was submitted previously but that the department withdrew the request because the criminal case was still pending. 



(12) comments


Gee Joe! If ya knew all that info, why didn't notify police? Very puzzling? About half the county lives east of there. Anyway I and we know what you said and intimated. And I seem to recognize that others question your knowledge. By the way. I have upgraded to carbide! lol


Since the article's author doesn't share with us who "Thayer" is, I'm going to assume that he's the interim Chief? Anyway, whoever he is, he's clearly afflicted with the blue line blindness. This story reeks from start to finish. We expect law enforcement officers to be held to a higher standard, like it or not. If you don't like it, find another occupation. If a lay person committed the same offense, and their job required them to drive on a daily basis, they likely wouldn't be guaranteed to keep their job. Public sector employees should be no different. Making accommodations for them, after having committed a crime, shouldn't be in the handbook.

Joe King

so he plead guilty, got a drivers license suspension for 60 days? And still drove to and from work in a company (police car) without a valid license....nothing to see, move a long, and hey, get a promotion.... Time to clean house!


Yep, you are a real friend of the police, right Joke man. I am so happy that you have a perfect record and can judge everyone else. You are a very bitter person and I feel sorry for your miserable life. Merry Christmas

RasmusSJorgensen Staff

Thayer said that Roundtree was on "limited duty." He worked in downtown Elkhart on foot or bike.

Joe King

thank you for clearing that up.


Wow Joe! Did you go to this meeting? And if you did...did anyone say the officer was driving to and from work and in a City vehicle. Gosh! That wouldn't be right. Would it? And if you have info no one else knows, you should contact the Prosecutor! This is kind of like the person that knew the driver of the Cadillac that killed the people on Beardsley was a rich person and lived out around the Greenleaf area. Well that was false too. That person didn't know squat either!


Yep that's Joe, always in the know.

Joe King

Oh hello fire....foil hat needs a new layer? I never said they were a rich person...I just said they were living in the greenleaf area...they were and they worked north of there too...your welcome.


A drunk driving police officer gets promoted to detective by a suspended Chief of Police. This department isn't even trying to be credible and obviously couldn't possibly care less.


Couldn't care less means they cared. i believe you should say the police could care less if the police do not care about the what it is doing. Now you make yourself look foolish when you say the the police "couldn't care less". Just saying!


You seem very butt hurt about something. Hope it gets better.

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