The Revolving Door of Police Chiefs

B9318722963Z.1_20150909112205_000_G8JBQU3BF.1-0For the third time since this blog has been in existence I find myself writing about a new Police Chief taking over the helm of the Cincinnati Police Department. That fact, in and of itself, is not that mind-boggling. But when you consider that this is the third chief to be sworn -in in less than six years,  that puts it all in perspective. It seems as if Cincinnati is experiencing a changing of the guard way to often. This revolving door of police chiefs directly affects police morale and operational capability of the Department. This causes turmoil that does not immediately subside when a new chief assumes command. For a quick synopsis leading up to this, read on.

The revolving door began spinning in 2011 when Colonel Thomas H. Streicher, Jr., retired from the Cincinnati Police Department, ending a career that spanned from Police Cadet to Police Chief. The last twelve years of his career were spent as Police Chief and I believe he would have stayed even longer had he not been required to leave because of the mandates of the DROP program. Toward the end of his tenure, he fell from disfavor with the rank and file mostly due to him adopting a very autocratic leadership style. But his accomplishments should not be discounted because of this. He successfully led the department through the riots of 2001 and the aftermath including the development of the Collaborative Agreement and the monitoring process as well as the accreditation of the Department by CALEA (a distinction the Department no longer enjoys). Additionally, Cincinnati Police Department won several national and international awards for excellence in policing while under his leadership.

Streicher was followed by Police Chief James Craig, now Chief of Police in Detroit Michigan. James Craig was the first police chief not to have risen through the ranks of the Cincinnati Police Department, and he was never certified to enforce Ohio’s laws by the Ohio Peace Officer’s Training Academy (OPOTA), the certifying authority for Police Officer’s in Ohio. Craig was also the first African-American Police Chief in the Cincinnati Police Department. Craig quickly gained favor with the members because of his open door policy, including the ability to reach him directly through social media. Also he modified some of the requirements that annoyed members most such as the requirement to wear the uniform hat, and his carte blanche approach to the wearing of the uniform. Those, along with his approaches to community policing and youth engagement quickly gained favor with the police department members and the citizenry. Craig had the potential to be a police chief of record with Cincinnati but he was lured by the green, green, grass of home and did not stay long enough to be effective.

Next through the revolving door came Jeffrey Blackwell, possibly one of the worst Chiefs in the history of the Cincinnati Police Department. He also was a transplant, after rising through the ranks in Columbus, Ohio. He did come with the OPOTA certification, but not much else. He was a despot in the truest sense of the word and morale quickly plummeted under his leadership, or lack thereof. He found himself in the position where he needed to demand respect because he was unable to develop the necessary command presence that would automatically garner respect. Blackwell was fired after two years for a number of reasons, including low morale in the Police Department and questionable ethics.

Last through the revolving door is the current police Chief, and third African-American Chief in a row, Eliot Isaac. Isaac, unlike the two before him, is a career Cincinnati Police Officer. He is well liked and well-respected by the rank and file, as well as the City administration. He was quickly raised from Captain to Executive Assistant Police Chief to Chief in a matter of months. Isaac has yet to make any major changes other than restoration of military ranks to command staff officers. I have not seen him in his full police chief dress uniform but I am hopeful he will tone down the third world dictator appearance adopted by his predecessor. I am pleased to see Eliot Isaac as chief. I have personal knowledge of his work and his work ethic and so I am confident that he will prove to be a capable and effective Police Chief.

In previous blogs welcoming the two preceding chiefs, I felt compelled to give some information about Cincinnati that of which outsiders may not be aware. This will not be necessary with Chief Isaac as I know he is aware of the East/West divide and the importance of which High School one attended. I do not know this for sure, but I am somewhat certain that a man of his caliber and capabilities will also know that Gold Star is the best chili. Congratulations Colonel Eliot Isaac. I wish you the best in your new position.
Those are my thoughts, what are yours?

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Tom Lind

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1 Comment

  1. ChrisDecember 29, 2015

    Gold Star ????OMG


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