Former City of Cincinnati police chief Jeffery Blackwell says he’ll sue the city for wrongful dismissal. Blackwell was fired Wednesday by City Manager Harry Black, after a list of grievances was filed. Blackwell has stated that his lawyer would soon address the allegations against him in a lawsuit against the city.
When asked about the reports that criticized him, Blackwell claimed he never read them. The former chief also complained that Black and Mayor Cranley never supported him. Blackwell told reporters, in a statement from the Cincinnati Business Courier, he never had a chance to prove himself.
“I love the people of Cincinnati. I’ve worked very, very hard for the people of this city for two years. I’ve had the support of the White House, the attorney general, the national media … all of the national think tanks in policing, but I could never get the support of John Cranley or Harry Black. And because I never had their support – ever – I was never able to command the department the way it should have been led.”
Community reaction over Blackwell’s firing included shock, anger, and disbelief. His dismissal comes less than two years after the departure of former Cincinnati chief James Craig. Black maintains that he identified problems with Blackwell’s leadership abilities early in his tenure. Disarray, communication issues, and lack of morale are some of the problems Black cited in a memo about Blackwell.
According to the report, released by the Cincinnati Enquirer, officers in the 1,000-member police force soured on Blackwell also. The reports found that 82 percent of the 485 officers surveyed said communication with leadership was ineffective, and 77 percent said police operations didn’t reflect the department’s priorities.
Blackwell may have grounds to claim his firing was political and sue the city. When asked how he was told of the allegations and his firing, the former commander said he was basically told to get out. Blackwell said he was escorted out like a criminal.
Under the city of Cincinnati charter, the city manager can remove the police chief after six months for causes relating to poor performance, abuse of official power, or felony. But the manager must follow a procedure if the chief demands it. The chief has the right to demand written charges and a hearing before the manager. Pending completion of the hearing, the manager may suspend the chief from office.
After the departure of former chief James Craig, Mayor Cranley made it clear that he wanted to have a role in hiring the next police chief.
[Image via WCPO]