Monday I was advised about an interview conducted by Chuck Williams of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer with Mayor Tomlinson. I was told a question concerning the endorsement by the Fraternal Order of Police membership was asked and that I should read it, so I did.
"Talk about the split with the law enforcement community here -- the FOP endorsed your opponent, Colin Martin. Universally it seemed law enforcement had issues with you. Why do they have issues and how do you repair it?"
"I think a couple of things. First of all, there were only 12 people at that announcement, and they were all sheriff's deputies, except for one who had recently been invited to retire. So, not 600 people were there. I know it was reported that they had 600 persons in their membership, but 600 individuals were not there. I would also say that it has been reported, as you know, that there was no process and there were no interviews, there was no opportunity to speak to the FOP membership. There certainly was no forum."
I am extremely disappointed with the mayor's answer, because it is not the truth.
To endorse a candidate in any local race an FOP member must make a motion, at a regular or special called meeting, that the FOP body "poll its membership to see if a 3/4 majority would choose to endorse a candidate, and if so, which candidate to endorse."
This is the same process that was used when Mayor Jim Wetherington was endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police.
At a regular meeting in April a member of the FOP made a motion to endorse in the 2014 Mayor's race and the motion carried after being seconded and voted on. That member chaired the Endorsement Committee; ten other FOP members agreed to serve on the Endorsement Committee and agreed to poll the 680-plus members of the Fraternal Order of Police. After all members were polled via telephone, the results were turned over to the FOP First Vice-President for disclosure to the media and membership.
The chair of the Endorsement Committee was not an employee of the sheriff's office (active or retired), nor were any of the 10 committee volunteers.
On the night of the FOP Endorsement Committee's announcement, over 40 FOP members, spouses and guests, along with representatives of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (Tim Chitwood), WTVM and WRBL, were present to hear the polling. I am sure these media professionals can attest to who was in attendance, and some have video evidence.
The Fraternal Order of Police has existed for almost 100 years and continues to be successful because we work hard at protecting the men and women who serve in the "noble cause." I would never support or be a part of any endorsement procedure that did not follow a strong democratic process and uphold the values of the Fraternal Order of Police.
Whoever thought up the lie that "there were only 12 people at that announcement, and they were all sheriff's deputies, except for one who had recently been invited to retire" did nothing but insult and attempt to discredit the men and women who have taken an oath to serve and protect their fellow man and who had chosen to exercise their rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
This can be described as an attempt to intimidate and harass a group of employees who are exercising their rights. FOP legal representatives have been made aware of this dishonest behavior and members have been made aware of their rights.
The election is behind us and I have congratulated Mayor Tomlinson on her hard-fought victory. I hope she does the right thing by retracting this statement and apologizing to the membership of the Fraternal Order of Police. I have no doubt that we can rebuild the positive relationship that once existed between the local law enforcement community and city leadership, but it will take honest communication and mutual respect.
The FOP is moving forward with our mission of supporting our law enforcement brothers and sisters and the citizens of the community we serve. We are ready to move beyond this. We are focused on our local, state and national charities, legislation and other issues that impact law enforcement on all levels.
I am passionate, outspoken and bold about supporting the men and women who patrol our streets, run our jails and prisons here in Columbus and throughout the United States. While it has never been my intention to be rude to anyone who serves our community, I have also never attempted to be politically correct. My focus is on being an ethical and honest leader within an organization that was founded on service to those who do "the job" and for that I will not apologize.
W.R. "Randy" Robertson, President, Karl F. Eidam Lodge 9, Fraternal Order of Police.