FOP accuses Richmond mayor of misleading public over police personnel

RICHMOND, Ind. — Less than a month ago, Whitewater Community Television released a video highlighting Richmond Mayor Ron Oler’s first 100 days/quarter in office.

Among those highlights was Oler talking about the improvements made to the city’s police department, including being able to purchase new tasers, body cameras for all officers and seven new police cars, as well as appointing new department chiefs.

Oler was also quoted as saying that for the first time in many years, the police department is fully staffed.

That claim drew a response from the local John W. Hennigar Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 63 two days later on Facebook, where the lodge’s executive board denied Oler’s claim.

The board said in its post that as of June 19, the Richmond Police Department had 66 sworn officers covered by the labor agreement. However, the union contract between the FOP and the city of Richmond stipulates that a full staff consists of 76 officers.

“It is misleading not only to the residents of Richmond and Wayne County, but to all persons who visit our community and directly affects the perception of safety,” the post said. “Furthermore, it is unfair to the officers of the Richmond Police Department who work tirelessly day in and day out to provide exceptional public safety service to the residents and visitors of Richmond to be subjected to misleading statements by the highest ranking official in this city.”

The FOP acknowledged that while members of the police administration are sworn and certified, they are not covered by the union contract, and even if they were, the RPD would still be understaffed based on the contract.

“It is true that the department has faced a shortage of officers for many years, which is not isolated to this department alone,” the post said. “Agencies across the United States have faced staffing shortages for many years and are working hard to hire qualified candidates.”

The lack of officers within the RPD was not the only misleading claim the FOP accused Oler of making, adding that he took “credit for initiatives that were in motion prior to his installment as mayor,” though the statement did not go into any other details .

“We recognize the efforts that the administrators of the Richmond Police Department have made to fill vacancies and increase community safety have not gone unnoticed. However, we believe and respectfully ask that Mayor Oler address this statement and recognize that the department is still dangerously understaffed and that his statement was incorrect,” the post concluded.

Two requests for comment and more details were sent to both the John W. Hennigar Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 63 and the mayor’s office in recent days. At the time of publication, neither side has responded. This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Evan Weaver is a news and sports reporter at The Palladium-Item. Contact him at X (@evan_weaver7) or email at [email protected].

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