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Union: Indio Police Department faces a staffing shortage

I-Team investigator John White brought you an in-depth report on the Indio Police Department being a department in turmoil. A city hall investigation is ongoing into the department leadership under Chief Mike Washburn over allegations leveled by the city's two police unions.

The issue stems from the dismissal of an Indio Police officer fired over charges they were found "not guilty" over. The issue has led to allegations from police unions that the Chief and his assistant chiefs lied under oath about.

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John White joins Peter Daut during News Channel 3 at 6:30 p.m. to speak more on the story and additional complaints made by the Indio Police Officers Association, including issues with staffing.

"In addition to that, the police union, the Police Officers Association attorney, her name is Brandy Harper, General Counsel. I just talked with her, and she made the additional allegation now that there's a staffing shortage at the Indio Police Department, something that could eventually impact public safety, especially with all the festivals coming up," John said. "So I reached out to the police department on this to find out what are the staffing levels? Is there a problem in this area?

"There are 13 police officer openings right now, in Indio. Now that's a staff that should be around at 85 or something like that. So it's significant."

- John white

"But instead of it being a mass exodus, like the police unions have kind of described to me, I was told that... here's what happened. Here's how those 13 openings were created," John said. "Four of them are new positions. Three were medical terminations, people left for medical reasons.

John continued, "Also there was one termination and five resignations for various reasons. So the police department will point out that it's not any kind of a mass exodus because of this conflict in this situation that's going on right now."

"On the other side, the police union says, 'Hey, they're doing mandatory overtime and sometimes calling in officers on their days off and forcing them to come in.' So that's an issue that we'll continue to watch," John added.

So what happens now with the police unions and the chief of police seeming to be digging in in this battle?

"The people I've talked to people on both sides, and you know, these votes of no confidence, we're in the 77 or 80%, depending on what union we're talking about, but there are people on both sides, people who support the chief, people who don't, John said. "The one thing I think that they both agree on is that it's difficult right now, it's kind of an unusual place to work because there are kind of these lines that have been drawn."

"Now the Police Officers Association attorney saying there's been a real breakdown in communication between the chief, his command staff, and the line-level officers," John said. "The mayor continues to stand by the chief, but that she wouldn't do a full interview about this. The city manager who's ultimately responsible for the police chief and the police department also does not do an interview instead giving a statement. The bottom line is the city feels a little bit hampered because they feel like they have to protect everyone's confidentiality. Whereas the police unions don't that where they can, you know, they can share more and make allegations that are very public"

Stay with News Channel 3 for continuing coverage on this issue.

Jesus Reyes

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