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FOP gives low confidence vote to Columbus police chief

Published: Feb. 24, 2022 at 11:18 AM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - The local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police’s (FOP) survey, revealed at the Columbus City Council Monday night, shows that 84% of Columbus officers who belong to the FOP have “low faith” in their current chief.

According to a press release from the Fraternal Order of Police in Columbus, there are 232 members of the FOP and 73% of them are Columbus police officers. Of that 73%, 84% of officers say they did not believe Columbus Police Chief Freddie Blackmon is fit to do the job.

“They didn’t just start over night,” said Blackmon. “They didn’t just start when I became the chief of police.”

Blackmon is up against harsh criticism from his own police officers.

At the city council meeting Tuesday night, in front of a full-capacity crowd that included Chief Blackmon and city leaders, the president of the FOP Lieutenant Ralph Dowe released results from a survey indicating law enforcement officers doubt Chief Blackmon has the ability to fulfil his duty as chief of police.

The FOP is an organization consisting of current law enforcement officers. The organization attempts to improve the working conditions of law enforcement officers and the safety of those they serve.

The presentation of the survey results caused some people like the president of the local NAACP branch, Wane Hailes, to question the motive behind their concerns.

“They meant to embarrass the chief of police,” Hailes said.

Hailes even says the FOP’s motives are racial and raises questions about the organization’s survey.

“Okay, so, you had 219 people. If you were really open and honest about what you’re doing, what’s the demographics - how many Blacks, how many Whites, how many Hispanics?,” Hailes questioned.

However, Lt. Ralph Dowe says the demographics represent the demographics of the police department.

The FOP’s presentation also included concerns about Blackmon’s leadership and it’s correlation to violence - something Chief Blackmon says he and his command staff are working on.

“The city has invested over $8 million in surveillance cameras and that will go along with what we currently have,” Chief Blackmon said. “So, that will be a big help.”

Another issue brought up, which both Mayor Henderson and Chief Blackmon say, is an on-going issue of inadequate pay and police staff shortages.

“Since 2016, we have hired 300 police officers and in that same time frame 400 officers have left the department,” the chief said. “I’m willing to continue to work with the FOP under this new leadership that they have.”

Blackmon says, in order to fix the issue of pay, the department is currently undergoing a pay study.

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