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

Those highlights included Oler’s remarks on improvements to the city’s police department, including the ability to purchase new tasers, body cameras for all officers and seven new police cars, as well as the appointment of new department heads.

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

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

The committee stated in its submission that as of June 19, the Richmond Police Department had 66 sworn officers covered by the collective bargaining agreement. However, the collective bargaining agreement between the police department and the City of Richmond requires a full staffing level of 76 officers.

“It is not only misleading to the citizens of Richmond and Wayne County, but to every person who visits our community and directly impacts their sense of safety,” the post said. “Additionally, it is unfair to Richmond Police Department officers who work tirelessly day in and day out to provide an exceptional public safety service to the citizens and visitors of Richmond to be subjected to misleading statements from this city’s top official.”

The FOP acknowledged that although members of the police administration are sworn and certified, they are not covered by the collective bargaining agreement, and even if they were, the RPD would still be understaffed under the agreement.

“It is true that the department has struggled with staffing shortages for many years, and this is not unique to this department,” the post said. “Agencies across the United States have struggled with staffing shortages for many years and are working diligently to hire qualified candidates.”

The lack of officers at the RPD was not the only misleading claim the FOP made against Oler, adding that he had “emphasized initiatives that were put in place before he took office as mayor,” without providing further details.

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

In recent days, 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. As of publication time, neither side has responded. This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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