A majority of Indio Police Department lieutenants and sergeants have voted “no confidence” in the chief and his two assistant chiefs, it was announced Wednesday.
In a letter dated July 13, Wendell Phillips, general counsel of the Indio Police Command Unit Association, advised City Manager Bryan Montgomery that 77% of the association’s members voted they lacked confidence in Chief Mike Washburn.
An unspecified smaller majority professed the same opinion of Assistant Chiefs Brian Tully and Christopher Shaefer, according to the letter, which was first reported by television station KESQ.
“You can’t motivate and lead a team of first responders if the people at the top have totally lost the respect of line level staff and middle managers, which is precisely the current situation at the IPD,” Phillips wrote in the letter.
Washburn and his two assistant chiefs “lack the ability and character to continue in leadership positions in the Indio Police Department,” the letter reads.
The association represents the department’s three lieutenants and 10 sergeants in labor matters. The letter says all members eligible to vote did so.
Indio police spokesman Ben Guitron referred a request for comment to city manager’s office. An Indio city spokeswoman said the city cannot comment on personnel issues.
The letter accuses Washburn and Shaefer of lying under oath during a department disciplinary hearing back in January, though specifics regarding the nature the proceedings were not provided.
Washburn is also accused in the letter of using his position to retaliate against officers under his command. However, specifics were also not provided.
The letter also alleges that the Indio Police Officers’ Association, which represents patrol officers, corporals and other department employees, also recently “adopted a similar position of `no confidence”’ in Washburn and Shaefer. An association representative could not immediately be reached to verify that claim.
“To preserve and protect the reputation of the Indio Police Department, at minimum, Washburn and Shaefer need to be placed on paid administrative leave forthwith,” Phillips wrote in the letter.
“I have no doubt that an objective review of their above-described lack of honestly while under oath, and the acts of retaliation which have occurred since that initial misconduct was reported, can and should ultimately lead to their resignations or dismissal.”