On August 4th, 2011 I wrote a blog article reporting that the City of Cincinnati had a new Police Chief, James E. Craig. It is hard to believe just over two years later I am once again commenting on the fact that the City of Cincinnati Police Department has a new Chief. I am not reporting this with optimism, or even cautious optimism for I am not optimistic. I am only reporting and opining on the fact that there is a new Police Chief in town, again. The Townehouse Phoenix Blog officially welcomes Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell. The question in everyone’s mind is, what does it all mean?
The City Manager, Milton Dohoney, selected Blackwell from a short list of four candidates. One would think he made the choice based on the best candidate, but this does not seem to be the case. Chief Blackwell comes with some baggage. I have no intention of rehashing those issues. They are well documented and easily searched in any Internet search engine. I would like to mention, however, that at least one other candidate who was equally qualified did not have any such baggage attached. So the question is, did the City Manager really pick the best candidate from the pool? I am not going to go into the details of why I think others on the list may have been better qualified. I think the facts speak for themselves. The time for discussion is over. It is now time for the Cincinnati Police Department to pick up the pieces and move forward. It is now time for Chief Blackwell to take the reins and lead the Cincinnati Police Department.
But how will he do that? It is common knowledge that any new executive will make changes. Even if they say they won’t, they will. That is how that make the organization their own. When Chief Craig was hired two years ago his path was simple. He had to take a demoralized agency and raise them back up. Of course, fowling the 12 year reign of terror of the previous administration, there was no way to go but up. Chief Craig grabbed the low-hanging fruits and quickly became popular with the rank and file. But the low hanging fruits have all been picked. Chief Blackwell cannot easily implement a new uniform, considering the popularity of the current uniform, nor can he take away the white hats, nor can he implement ten-hour work days. And since those issues successfully raised morale in the Police Department, should Blackwell choose to reverse any of them, the effect will only be demoralizing. So what will he do to take charge and yet keep morale high? Only time will tell. Once can only speculate. As you recall, Chief Craig made a number of changes that made the Cincinnati Police Department more L.A. like. I believe he did this to enhance his own comfort level. After all, you know what you know. Will Chief Blackwell make the Cincinnati Police Department more Columbus like? Will the officers soon be wearing eight point hats? Will the police Bureaus, which became Offices, and then reverted back to being bureaus now become subdivisions?
I guess the best approach is to take a wait and see attitude. I have seen the best and the worst over the years. Time will tell on which side of the best and the worst Chief Blackwell will fall. Until then, I suggest we all pop a top on a can of coke, propose a toast of welcome, and sit back and see what happens.
Those are my thoughts, what are yours?
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