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CINCINNATI - Outgoing Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig fired back to a local minority police organization’s “vote of no confidence” last week, defending his record as a transparent and fair executive.
The Sentinel Police Association, an organization dedicated to address “discriminatory practices” within the Cincinnati Police Department, notified Craig and other city leaders of the vote of no confidence last week. The letter, authored by Sentinel President Phill Black, said despite Craig’s success to broaden the department’s reach to business and community members and the changing of uniforms, Craig failed to “level the playing field” for minority officers seeking advancement.
“Your focus seemed to have switched from the overhaul of the Cincinnati Police Department to that of celebrity acceptance from the citizens of Cincinnati,” the letter read in part.
The vote of no confidence comes only a little more than week before Craig’s last day as police chief on June 22. Craig heads to Detroit to assume command of his hometown police department on approximately July 1. When seeking comment from Craig, WCPO Digital was told he was out-of-town and is unavailable.
By most accounts his tenure – albeit short – was a success. But it was not without controversy. When he assumed command, Craig audited the department, and took a top-to-bottom approach to make the department more efficient. Several city council members circulated a petition to try and keep him here when rumors first circulated that he might be interested in a job elsewhere.
Black alleged Craig failed to address unfair disciplinary practices within the police force and accused Craig of displaying “an asymmetrical practice of disciplining African Americans more than non-African Americans,” citing Craig’s swift transfer prior to any form of investigation.
In his response, Craig took exception.
“ … I met routinely with the Sentinel Board to discuss current issues and/or concerns you had regarding pending disciplinary matters or workplace environmental concerns,” Craig wrote. “In every instance, we responded to any concerns raised and took immediate action to address these issues.
“Your assertion that the disciplinary process was unfair and never addressed is clearly unfounded.”
Craig, 56, leaves the department after a little less than two years, and departs as the only external hire and black chief of police in Cincinnati’s history. Craig interviewed for the Detroit position in 2010, before becoming Cincinnati’s 13th chief in August 2011.
In his response, Craig went on to say “it is undisputed that morale of the CPD was high during my tenure and it was not because of nepotism, unfair discipline, or not promptly addressing allegations of misconduct.”
He added: “Frankly, I find it interesting that you wait until I prepare to leave this department as Detroit’s next police chief to raise these issues.”
Craig also alleged that he learned that “some of (the Sentinel’s) executive board were unaware that your letter was forwarded to me on behalf of the association.”
Black could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday morning.
WCPO Digital will update this story as more information becomes available.
Read Chief James Craig's response to the Sentinel Police Association's letter below.
Read the Sentinel Police Association's original letter to Chief Craig below.
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