FOP president says he is 'surprised' by full support from office - WDRB 41 Louisville News

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FOP president says he is 'surprised' by full support from officers over 'blunt' letter to community

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- While dozens of protestors called for his resignation Monday afternoon, Fraternal Order of Police President Dave Mutchler denied that his open letter last week was "dividing the community" and claimed he has heard nothing but support from the officers he represents.

In fact, Sgt. Mutchler said he was "a little surprised" at how universal the support has been from fellow officers after his admittedly "blunt" open letter to the community in the wake of the shooting of Sudanese immigrant Deng Manyoun by Officer Nathan Blanford.

"I have yet from my members received any information from even one member that thought the letter was out of order or that I shouldn't have sent it," Mutchler said in an interview with WDRB on Monday. "All of the information that I've got from my members thus far is that they appreciate the fact that somebody is willing to stand up and defend them when they think things are being twisted. ... That's my role, that's my job."

Earlier in the day, about 100 demonstrators blocked 7th and Jefferson, denouncing the union leader and the letter he sent last week, which lashed out at "sensationalists, liars and race-baiters" and seemingly threatened those who criticize police.

"Hey, hey, ho, ho, Dave Mutchler has got to go," demonstrators chanted at one point during the peaceful protest.

Mutchler said he was not at police headquarters during the protest but had been there earlier in the morning, meeting with Chief Steve Conrad. He would not discuss specifics of that meeting, except to say it involved his letter.  

Of the protests, Mutchler told WDRB reporter Valerie Chinn that "folks were out there exercising their First Amendment right," just like he did in his letter.

"We have the same rights as every other citizen," he said.

Both Conrad and Mayor Greg Fischer have distanced themselves from Mutchler's letter, criticizing the language used.

"The threatening tone is not representative of the vast majority of our officers or our citizens – and many have told us that they have a significantly differently view than Mr. Mutchler," Conrad and Fischer said in a joint statement Friday. "His words do absolutely nothing to help build community-police relations and undermine the noble and difficult work our police do every day, from keeping us safe and secure in our homes to protecting our First Amendment right to speak our minds."

Mutchler said he may "agree to disagree" with the mayor and chief but had no reason to believe there would be a problem in forging a "working relationship" going forward.

And, Mutchler again reiterated that his letter was not meant to be taken as a threat to anyone, acknowledging however that "no doubt it was blunt" and not politically correct.

"And some folks might have considered it abrasive, but it wasn't threatening," Mutchler said. "There is no point in trying to dress things up and beat around the bush." 

Police will stand up for themselves against those who "change things or want things to fit their own agenda and they say things that we think require a response," Mutchler said.

"Officers are tired; it's not a good time to be a police officer right now," Mutchler said. "To want to go out there and still do your job and be motivated, you have to know that someone will stand up for you."

In the letter sent out Thursday afternoon, Mutchler condemned what he called "idiocy and lies" in the wake of the shooting of Manyoun, saying the FOP would no longer "stand on the sidelines."

The letter blasted those who "use misinformation and who sensationalize tragedy at every opportunity to forward their political agendas."

A paragraph is dedicated to thanking those who support police and Mutchler pledges that police will continue to serve and protect citizens. Another denounces the "criminal element" in the community, condemning their actions and pledging to "use every option available to take [criminals] into custody."

The letter also takes particular aim at "liars, sensationalists and race-baiters," saying "we are done with you."

On Monday, Mutchler said upon retrospect, he may have worded the letter slightly different, but the intent would be the same. And he offered to make himself available to better explain his words to people who may be confused.

"I want everybody to understand what it was I was saying," he said. "I'm absolutely willing to talk to anybody who wants to talk about it."

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