EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - For the first time since the vote of confidence was held Wednesday, we are hearing from the man at the center of the controversy, Chief Billy Bolin.
Appointed chief in 2012, Bolin, whose been with EPD for more than two decades. On Tuesday, he shared on social media the confidence vote was coming.
“Did I want this public fight? Absolutely not,” explains Chief Bolin. “I don’t want the public to my officers think this of me, but at the same time I don’t think I deserve it.”
The tension, he says, between EPD administration and the FOP leaders typically stays out of the public eye, but has existed for many years. Bolin even recalls a conversation he had at a police chief’s conference.
“Chief in here, I raised my hand," Bolin recalls. "Said yes sir, I’m chief of Evansville. He said God help you. That FOP is going to sue you and fight you over everything down there. We’re the statewide example and the FOP is proud of it.”
Chief Bolin says man-power and staff issues are among the unions biggest complaints.
“We brought up that we do not have enough man-power on the street to keep our citizens safe,” says FOP President DJ Thompson.
With 286 officers on staff, Bolin says they are short 29 officers. 14 are in the academy and they have 10 openings.
Five officers are on extended sick leave.
He explains they are looking to restructure the hiring process, but there’s no quick or easy fix.
“This is a nationwide epidemic," states Bolin. "It’s not a great time to be a police officer. People aren’t running and knocking on our door to do it.”
Right now, 10 news SUVs are on back-order. For patrol, the department needs 19 cars to be available.
Right now, they are four short.
“First shift, third shift, you can drive down Sycamore Street and there’s car parked everywhere all the time,” explains Bolin. “We’ve got one squad on second shift any that’s our younger officers. Nobody on that squad has a take-home car.”
The FOP is also alleging privacy concerns over body cameras.
“What we don’t like on these new cameras is there is a complete lack of privacy," says Thompson. "They record all the time.”
“Absolutely, turn their camera off," Bolin states. "They don’t have to take their camera in their house. I heard that too. I don’t know where they comes from. Either a completely understanding of what our camera system is or a completely lie.”
The chief, also responding to some Police Union complaints that his department is too quick to come out with information and body camera video to the media.
“Have to be transparent, you have to get out in front of stuff," Bolin explains. "The days of holding on to information the days of waiting. They’re gone.”
As for remaining ideas, questions and concerns, Bolin says he has an open-door policy for anyone, including FOP leadership.
“It’s tough," Bolin says. "It’s going to be tough for every chief that ever follows me and it was tough for every chief before me.”
The FOP also alleges what they describe as nasty emails from Chief Bolin. Very few details have come out yet about those.
According to the chief, those could be released as soon as Friday.