The Most Qualified Candidate Is . . .

On June 4th, 2015 Cincinnati Executive Assistant Police Chief Paul H. Humphries announced his intention to retire after 30 years of service to the City of Cincinnati. Paul has accepted a job with the Coca Cola Company in Tampa, Florida. I know Paul, having worked with him, and for him, over those 30 years. I have nothing but praise and high regard for the man. He treated everyone with respect and dignity and I can’t help but think that he was one of the few at the command staff level that actually got me. I am very happy for Paul and I wish him the best in this next phase of his life’s journey. I have said it before, and I will say it again, Paul Humphries should have been the Police Chief these last few years. In fact, I feel certain that had this been the case I would not be writing this article today. My best to you my friend, Paul H. Humphries and thank you for a job well done. There is no question in my mind that the Cincinnati Police Department’s loss is Coca Cola’s gain. That is the good news, now for the bad news.

No sooner had he announced his retirement when the posturing began in earnest to insure the position he is vacating is filled by a minority candidate. In fact, City Manager Harry Black, in the press release announcing Paul’s retirement is quoted as saying, “I am looking forward to working closely with the Chief, who will lead the recruitment effort, in order to engage our officers, the union and the community about how best to seize this opportunity to enhance diversity at this level of our ranks,”. Mayor John Cranley reinforced this sentiment when he claimed that he was disturbed’ by lack of diversity in CPD command staff. Now I am quite certain that anyone and everyone will read between the lines of those statements and realize that both the City Manager and the Mayor are interested in obtaining the most qualified candidate for the position, as long as the candidate is African-American. But just if it was not clear enough, Phil Black, President of the Cincinnati Police Sentinels is quoted as saying “We have an opportunity right now with executive chief Humphries giving his two week notice to fill that assistant chief spot with a qualified African-American”. That clears it up, and one does not even have to read between the lines to understand Phil Black’s meaning. He is not asking for a qualified person, he is excluding all but a qualified African-american.

For those with short memories, or those who were not here then, I offer the following historical perspective of recent diversity events in the command staff of the Cincinnati Police Department. First, let us not forget that both the current Police chief and his predecessor are both African-American. Only a few short years ago there were four Assistant Police Chiefs at the time James Craig assumed command. There were two male whites, one female white, and one male black. That sounds pretty diverse to me. One of the male whites, the female white and the male black left the department due to length of service retirements and/or perceived better opportunities. Police Chief James Craig, in trying to make the department less top-heavy reduced the number of assistant chief positions to three. He then elevated one of those positions to Executive Assistant Police Chief which was filled by Paul Humphries and the second vacant position was filled by David Bailey. Both individuals were male whites, and both were selected to fill the positions by Chief James Craig who is, in case you forgot, an African-American. James Craig took the difficult, and often unpopular, stance of filling the positions with the person he felt was most qualified to do the job.

The question is, what method will be used to determine who the next Assistant Chief will be. As I understand it, there is no requirement that the position be taken from the rank of Captain. There is no competitive exam process used to create a “list”. If memory serves me correctly, the last two assistant chief positions had applicants from outside the agency, as well as from ranks other than Captain from within the department. Mayor Cranley asserts there is no diversity at the command level as there is only one African-American at the Captains rank and none at the assistant chiefs level. As I recall, both African-Americans and white women were considered to be under-served classes in the Police Department and efforts were made to recruit, hire, and promote more people from both those classes. Since we have three white females and a black male at the Captain’s rank, it would seem as if the rank is more diversified than the Mayor would have us believe. He further implied a future opening in the Captain rank because of a possibility that a position from that rank will be elevated to assistant chief. The Sentinels have called for a double-blind test written and graded by outsiders, and graded anonymously. If this is done, and the final list does not contain an African-American, what then? I think it is ludicrous to attempt to make each and every level of ranks within the department “look like the population they serve”. I don’t think it can be done without stepping on the union contracts and civil service rules and regulations.

This entire process is already flawed and any attempts to influence who is selected to make sure the position(s) are filled with only an African-American smacks of corruption. The citizens of Cincinnati deserve the brightest and the best at the assistant chief and captain ranks. If the system is manipulated to ensure diversity then the citizens (read voters, Mr. Cranley) may not be getting the brightest or the best. The people need assurance that the person who fills the position is the most qualified to do so, regardless of race or gender. I say let us do what is right and what is fair and let us put the foolishness behind us. Diversity is good, I am certain of that. But it is not the only thing to be considered when filling the position, of that I am also certain.

Those are my thoughts, what are yours?

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Tom Lind

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