.LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) — Jacksonville's Fraternal Order of Police released a press release today, Feb. 6 that outlined the organization's grievances with how the City is handling their search for a chief.
The FOP chose to release the grievances through a press release after Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher refused to meet with the organization, according to the release. The FOP alleges that Fletcher did not meet with them because they are not a union.
Fletcher's office has said he will not comment on the release.
There are 19 positions that the organization assumes will go unfilled. It also said the department's budget has been slashed by the city government. It also notes that they are under the impression two high-ranking positions in Support Services will go unfilled, as well.
The organization said the understaffed force has led to an ineffective police force with communication grinding to a near-halt. It points to the hiring of Jeff Herweg, despite concerns that he was not eligible to serve as chief.
He was removed after eight months when a judge ruled he was ineligible. The FOP did not express an opinion on Herweg but rather criticized the handling of his replacement, City Attorney Robert Bamburg.
From the release:
This decision was made even though there were highly capable Police Captains, that were and still are capable of filling the position. This action shows a complete lack of confidence, trust, and respect for the JPD Command Staff.
This appointment has directly resulted in extremely slow communication between the Command Staff and the Director, and extended time to complete Internal Affairs and Supervisor Investigations. It has also directly resulted in the slow pace at which disciplinary actions are handled. Previously a routine disciplinary action would take days to complete, now takes months. It has resulted in delayed decision making at the highest level of our department due to unavailability of the Director. While the Director is unavailable, no decision making authority is delegated to the Captains.
Fletcher has refused to meet with the FOP and has not responded to their letters, according to the release. It compares the police force to the military, accentuating the need for a strong chain of command.
It asks that the mayor appoint replacements in the two vacant Support Services unity, as well as appoint a police officer as the interim police chief.