Local News

FOP Vows to Not Recognize New Chief

(La Porte, IN) - The La Porte Fraternal Order of Police is not recognizing the new police chief, asking the mayor to replace him with someone who they consider legitimate.


In a letter, the FOP says the mayor is required, under local ordinance, to appoint a police chief from within the department as long as the officer chosen has served five years with the department immediately prior to appointment.


About two weeks ago, Dick Buell came out of retirement when chosen by the mayor to be police chief, having previously begun his long career with La Porte City Police before going to the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office and later being in charge at La Porte County Community Corrections.


The FOP says the officers do not recognize Buell as the police chief and will operate under the leadership of newly appointed Assistant Police Chief Matthew Drangmeister, who came from within the ranks. The Order also asserted that officers will operate under his authority until a new chief is appointed from within the department.


“Although we commend Mr. Buell for his service in law enforcement in our community, we believe Mayor Dermody to have violated the code that he is sworn under and that we have sworn to uphold,” the FOP stated in its letter.


In response, Dermody said the local code is no longer in effect due to a 1996 change in state law giving mayors the authority to hire police chiefs from outside their departments.


“This is legal. The ordinance doesn’t matter because it’s invalid,” he said.


Dermody also said officers will be dealt with if they are not operating under the leadership of Buell.


“Insubordination will be addressed. They will recognize him as the chief,” he said.


Buell filled the spot vacated by Paul Brettin after the latter announced his retirement from law enforcement following a 30-year career at the police department. 

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