Listing a litany of offenses, City Manager Harry Black has thrown Jeffrey Blackwell out of office and selected an interim chief of police.
City Manager Harry Black announced Wednesday that he is terminating Blackwell’s employment.
Eliot Isaac has been named interim Chief of Police. David Bailey will be the interim Executive Assistant Chief of Police and Douglas Wiesman was named the interim Assistant Chief of Police.
Black said via a statement that:
My concerns regarding Mr. Blackwell’s leadership of the Cincinnati Police Department (“CPD”) are not new. Mr. Blackwell has not provided the necessary leadership to ensure a cohesive operating environment within the department. As such, morale is at an unprecedented low level, and the general sentiment throughout the department is that Mr. Blackwell’s leadership style has created a work environment of hostility and retaliation.
The city manager also listed poor communication -- particularly with the department’s command staff -- in his decision to fire Blackwell.
Black wrote that the pervasive problems within Blackwell’s leadership efforts had a negative impact on department and inhibited its effectiveness.
“At a time in which our city, like so many across the country, is facing a dangerous spike in violence, we simply cannot afford such ineffective leadership,” Black wrote.
Mayor John Cranley’s office released a statement saying in part:
"We have appointed Assistant Police Chief Eliot Isaac as interim police chief. He is committed to working under the Collaborative Agreement, continuing to implement its principles and engaging the community. Making sure Cincinnati is safe is our top priority and will continue to be our focus."
In his report on the termination decision, Black claimed to have even brought in an outside expert to hold a team building session for Blackwell and his command staff. Black said that session was not successful.
Black goes on to write that he believes terminating Blackwell will allow the department to flourish and he feels it is his duty to the officers of the department to do so.
Leading up to Blackwell’s firing, Black said he took several steps including reviewing the department’s climate report, and talks with the department’s highest ranking officers, as well as civilian personnel. He wrote that those talks led to “alarming conclusions.”
Black went so far as to claim that Blackwell would use verbal abuse and insults to “convey his authority.”
The city manager referenced complaints from Lt. Barbara Young, Assistant Chief Bailey and Director of Communications Tiffaney Hardy in particular.
Black also accuses Blackwell of creating a culture of hostility and retaliation. He claims that Blackwell retaliated against workers and officers in response to media reports about the department.
The city manager claims that Blackwell had a practice of “ignoring chain of command and expertise.” He cited concerns from Isaac in particular.
Black wrote, “Blackwell has alienated and disregarded his executive team…”
Instead of relying on basic institutional practices, Black claims that Blackwell relied on a handpicked team of officers to make and communicate decisions.
Black also cited the climate report saying that the majority of the officers blamed the chief for the department’s woes.
The city manager said that Blackwell’s leadership brought the department’s morale to an all-time low. He quoted Isaac as saying it was “worse than the aftermath of the 2001 civil unrest.”
In the statement, Black also called out Blackwell’s travel and use of vacation time.
Black also said Blackwell has been absent when the city needed him saying:
"Many officers have described being unable to reach Mr. Blackwell during critical public safety moments even at times when Mr. Blackwell was recorded as in town."
The statement from Black doesn’t end there. He claims that Blackwell has an “unprofessional obsession with publicity and self-promotion, even at the expense of management and the morale of the police department.”
The city manager said Blackwell took “selfies” along the procession route of slain officer Sonny Kim. Black called the act “egregious and insensitive.”
Black also claims that Blackwell used his position to get tickets to Cincinnati sporting events. The chief reportedly exhorted his staff to try to get the tickets at no costs until his staff was no longer willing to do so.
In the end, Black wrote: “Sadly, there are many other failures and instances that have contributed to my decision. I thank the brave women and men in uniform for their dedication and service to the City and the civilian work force that works hand in hand with our officers to ensure that the police are able to effectively perform their duties.”
Reaction from the local law enforcement community immediately started pouring in after the announcement was made.
Local Fraternal Order of Police President Kathy Harrell said, “It does not surprise me. However, it is very sad that it would come to this and hopefully we’ll move forward in a better direction. Asst. Chief Isaac I’m sure with Colonel Dave Bailey will get us through this.”
She also told WEWS sister station WCPO that this is what the FOP rank and file wanted. Harrell said that there would have been a “no confidence” vote on Monday but that the survey was essentially the same thing.