Thursday, September 10, 2015

Cincy Police Chief Blackwell Fired

It was inevitable that somebody's head had to roll after two Cincinnati police stories made national headlines this summer: first, the death of Officer Sonny Kim in the line of duty, and second, the death of Sam Dubose by a UC campus officer.  On Wednesday the hammer fell on Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell as he was blasted in a 35-page report by City Manager Harry Black in front of City Council and Mayor Cranley, and then summarily dismissed.

Cincinnati's city manager has fired Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell. 
In a 35 page document, City Manager Harry Black cites "lack of sufficient and proper communication" and "consistent and pervasive disregard for chain of command." 
Morale in the department, Black wrote, "is at an unprecedented low level, and the general sentiment throughout the department is that Mr. Blackwell's leadership has created a work environment of hostility and retaliation."

Assistant Chief Eliot Isaac has been named Interim Chief. 
Documents included in the city’s release outline myriad problems with the chief and his leadership style. He is depicted as unprofessional, uncommunicative, and disrespectful to officers and other staff. There are repeated instances of the chief reportedly berating co-workers. 
In a statement, Captain Paul Broxterman says the chief asked him, on several occasions, to use his contacts with the Cincinnati Reds and Bengals to get free game tickets. 
Broxterman says the chief often made promises he wouldn’t fulfill. He adds the assistant chiefs were frequently frustrated over a lack of communication and direction from the chief. “They clearly felt powerless in the day-to-day operations of the department.” Broxterman does praise the chief for being passionate about community outreach, especially reaching out to the city’s youth. 
Now Interim Chief Eliot Isaac says rank and file officers repeatedly told him they felt unsupported by Chief Blackwell. 
Other complaints include the chief allegedly using profane language and harsh, berating language with co-workers, and taking 'selfies' along the funeral procession route for Officer Sonny Kim.

Blackwell got thrown under the bus by everyone in Cincy: his own officers, Mayor Cranley, the police unions and the press. Harry Black did praise Blackwell for his outreach program ti Cincinnati's black neighborhoods, but that was literally the only nice thing anyone's had to say about Chief Blackwell in months.

His days were numbered since Cranley was elected Mayor and Black appointed City Manager, but the deaths of Officer Kim and Sam Dubose were the final straws.  The Cincy FOP was going to give Blackwell a no confidence vote next week, and everyone couldn't wait to get rid of the guy.

Blackwell did have his supporters, most notably City Council members Chris Seelbach and Yvette Simpson, but that wasn't enough to save his job.  What's clear is that Blackwell was summarily fired because the police union and Cranley wanted him gone, and badly.

At City Hall, the former chief, Jeffrey Blackwell, told reporters he had not seen or read City Manager Harry Black's report. He said, Wednesday morning, he was "escorted out like a criminal."

"I've had the support of the White House, the attorney general, the national media, all the national think tanks, but I could never get the support off John Cranley or Harry Black and because I have never had their support, ever, I could never command the department the way it was supposed to be led."

Last week, Council Member Wendell Young, a former police officer, said he thought it was time for Blackwell to go. But, at Wednesday's council meeting, he said he did not like the way it was done, with no opportunity for Blackwell to respond.

"This has been bad theater here,'' Young said, directing his remarks to Cranley. "Mr. Mayor, you created this atmosphere; this is on you."

And you can't tell me that having an African-American police chief didn't have a role to play in why Blackwell never got the support he needed to run the department responsibly.  His job was to clean up the department that's had race issue for decades.

Instead, the CPD cleaned him out and trashed him.  This whole thing stinks, and there's more to it than Blackwell's behavior or going to Reds games.

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