LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) — FOX 56 has received a statement from Mayor Linda Gorton’s office in response to the Fraternal Order of the Police.
According to the statement, since Gorton took office in 2019, the city has seen the following pay increases:
- Every Lexington police officer has made at least 26% more, with starting pay increasing by 43%
- Every Lexington police sergeant has made at least 20% more
- The topped-out rate of pay for officers exceeds $80,000 per year and $100,000 per year for sergeants
These figures do not include any recruitment, retention, training incentives, shift differentials, or overtime, per Mayor Gorton’s office.
Lexington’s Fraternal Order of Police said it’s getting no communication from the city on how to fix the police department’s staffing shortage.
The Bluegrass FOP Lodge 4 President said the Lexington Police Department is 128 sworn officers shy of being fully staffed. It’s an issue he first spoke out about in September on social media. Since then, he says nothing has changed, so he’s speaking out again, hoping the community will help officers make their case to the city.
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“I’ve been making posts for maybe two months now, trying to bring more attention to the fact that we’re struggling with retention and recruitment and that nothing seems to be getting done about it,” said Bluegrass FOP Lodge 4 President Jeremy Russell.
In a Facebook post on Monday, Russell wrote, “That the city’s efforts towards solving their staffing issue can be summed up in one word: nothing.” Russell said he feels public safety is not a priority for city leaders.
“It gives the appearance that the people running the city, again, the mayor and city council, it gives the appearance that they just don’t care. Basically, if they turn a blind eye to what’s really going on, we focus on different things and feel good things like sidewalks and parks as opposed to public safety and what’s going on with the communities,” Russell said.
Russell hopes the community will step up to help make his case to the city.
“It’s not a question of whether or not we have support from the community. It’s but now we need them to step up and say, you know, this is what we need, this what we want, this is what we expect of our city leaders. Now’s the time to do that. The longer we wait, the worse it’s going to get. So, we need the silent majority to start speaking up,” Russell said.
With such an understaffed department, Russell says Lexington’s current officers are overworked and underappreciated.
“I am the voice for those officers that don’t feel that they can do that openly without facing some sort of punishment,” Russell said.
Russell claims he’s emailed council members about the issue multiple times. But when we spoke with Vice Mayor Dan Wu, he told us he hasn’t heard anything from the FOP since May. His fellow council member, Jennifer Reynolds, who serves as the chair of the social services and public safety committee, said she has no comment at this time.
FOX 56 News reached out to the mayor’s office as well, but we’re still waiting to hear back.