Media Contact: Vicki Elaine Becker (574) 296-1888

On Tuesday, April 28, 2020, the Indiana Attorney General‘s office advised that the pending contracts for a pilot project in Elkhart County with Banjo were being placed on hold. Banjo is a company that provides real-time first responder notification of emergency events in the State of Utah. Information surfaced on Tuesday that the president and CEO of Banjo, Damien Patton, had, in his youth, been actively involved in a hate group. Patton, 47, provided a statement in response to the information indicating:

“32 years ago I was a lost, scared, and vulnerable child. I won’t go into detail, but the reasons I left home at such a young age are unfortunately not unique; I suffered abuse in every form. I did terrible things and said despicable and hateful things, including to my own Jewish mother, that today I find indefensibly wrong, and feel extreme remorse for. I have spent most of my adult lifetime working to make amends for this shameful period in my life.

In my teens, I dropped out of school, lived on the streets, ate out of dumpsters and raised money panhandling. I was desperate and afraid. I was taken in by skinhead gangs and white supremacist organizations. Over the course of a few years, I did many things as part of those groups that I am profoundly ashamed of and sorry about.

Eventually, I was able to get myself away from this world while serving in the United States Navy. This turned my life around. While serving my country, I worked with law enforcement agencies in hate group prosecutions and left this world behind.

Since then, I have tried and failed to completely accept and come to terms with how I, a child of Jewish heritage, became part of such a hateful, racist group. One thing I have done, through therapy and outreach, I have learned to forgive that 15 year old boy who, despite the absence of ideological hate, was lured into a dark and evil world. For all of those I have hurt, and that this revelation will hurt, I’m sorry. No apology will undo what I have done.

I have worked every day to be a responsible member of society. I’ve built companies, employed hundreds and have worked to treat everyone around me equally. In recent years, I’ve sought to create technologies that stop human suffering and save lives without violating privacy. I know that I will never be able to erase my past but I work hard every day to make up for mistakes. This is something I will never stop doing.”

Elkhart County Prosecuting Attorney Vicki Elaine Becker believes in the concept of rehabilitation and the ability of a person to overcome their past with many years of positive actions and changes in thought patterns and priorities. Some people are successful, many are not. Recognizing this, the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney will be reevaluating the appropriateness of partnering with Banjo until further information is obtained. There is no question that the real-time notification product and the assistance it provides to first responders would clearly be beneficial in saving lives and reducing the impact of crime. However, since the extreme criminal and anti-social attitudes and behavior of Mr. Patton’s youth was not disclosed initially, trust must be rebuilt before considering whether to continue a relationship with Banjo. The contracts with local agencies had not yet been finalized, therefore no money had changed hands, and the service had not started in Elkhart County.


“Under Indiana law, all persons arrested for a criminal offense are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.”