Almost exactly two years after he was hired as the City of Cincinnati Police Chief, Jeffrey Blackwell has been fired from that position. Not only was he fired, but he was fired abruptly. He came to work on the morning of September 9th, 2015 and by noon of that day he had joined the ranks of the unemployed. This is significant, not only that he was fired, but how he was fired. Frequently, an official such as this will be offered the opportunity to resign with some sort of non-disclosure agreement being signed that neither party will divulge the underlying facts. I suppose in this case the underlying facts were too sensational to keep under wraps. As anyone who has read past blog articles on this site knows, the Townehouse Blog as frequently commented on issues regarding Jeffrey Blackwell. All of these blog articles can be found elsewhere on the Townehouse Blog or can be downloaded as a PDFF booklet known as “The Blackwell Chronicles”. Many of the reasons given by the City Manager to support his decision to fire Blackwell were also the subject of a blog article, some written many months ago. If these issues were apparent that long ago, the question that I have, why did it take so long?
As many know, I am not now, nor have I ever been, a fan of Jeffrey Blackwell. This is based not only on reported activities and behaviors of the man, but on my own personal experiences with him. That being said, on first hearing of his firing I was somewhat taken aback by the way it was handled. It seemed someone lopsided that his firing would happen based on a report known as a climate assessment with out first allowing Blackwell to have access to the report and giving him a chance to respond. As everyone knows, there is always two sides of a story. In this case there were many sides to the story, and none of those sides were favorable as revealed in the memo sent to Mayor John Cranley by Harry Black. I do not know if only accounts unfavorable to Blackwell were attached to the memo or if there were no favorable accounts available to be attached. Apparently two investigations were conducted. One was by an outside entity known as Make It Plain Consulting and internally conducted by the combined efforts of the city’s HR and Solicitors Departments. Written accounts of these interviews conducted by the latter are submitted as attachments of the memo created by Harry Black, previously mentioned. Both reports are linked and available for download at the end of this article. Again, after reading both reports, I have the same question, why did it take so long.
So now the question is, where does it go from here. Ltc. Eliot Isaac has been sworn in as the Interim Police Chief, Ltc. David Bailey as the Interim Executive Assistant Police Chief, and Captain Douglas Wiesman as the Interim Assistant Police Chief. Of interest is that fact that the entire Senior Command Staff is now composed of interim appointments. I wonder how effective this arrangement will be. Human beings tend to look out for themselves first, as they should. How often will one of the interim appointees have to consider the impact of how a decision made today will be accepted by the new regime, when that occurs. All of the aforementioned individuals will be recovering from the post traumatic stress inflicted as a result of working for Blackwell, as documented by each one in reports they submitted and subsequently were made attachments to the City Manager’s Memo. I hope all concentrate on the process of healing the police department, which should be a priority. The good news is, all three a veterans of the Cincinnati Police Department, all have worked their way up through the ranks, and all have the institutional knowledge that will make them effective in their interim assignments, should they choose to be so.
I must admit that I have concerns regarding the selection of Eliot Isaac as the Interim Police Chief. If the desire is to have the department led in the interim by the most qualified individual then I submit that it is not Eliot Isaac. I say this based on his experience as a member of the Senior Command Staff. As many know, I questioned whether he was the right choice when he was promoted to the Position of Executive Assistant Police Chief, promoted to a position of seniority over the two existing Assistant Police Chiefs, James Whalen and David Bailey. Now there are only two left, and once again, Eliot Isaac was selected to a position senior too David Bailey even though Bailey has three years more experience at the Senior Command Staff level than does Isaac. Based on certain hiring and promotion activities previously observed in an earlier blog, this does not surprise me. But it is what it is. I am sure that phrase has been muttered by more than a few over the past 24 hours.
My wish is this, all reservations aside. I wish the very best for the Cincinnati Police Department, an organization I dearly love. I wish the very best to all three interim appointees and I trust all will work very hard to help restore the police department and the morale of all members back to where it was several years ago. The Cincinnati Police Department is still one of the finest in the nation, in spite of Jeffrey Blackwell. I believe it will become even better as we move forward. That is what I believe, how about you?
Those are my thoughts, what are yours?
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