CINCINNATI - Replacing outgoing Police Chief James Craig is near the top of a long list of priorities for City Manager Milton Dohoney.
Amid trying to find solutions for the troubled streetcar project, the multimillion-dollar budget gap and the parking lease issue, Dohoney now has to find a replacement for Craig. Albeit short, by most accounts Craig’s tenure in Cincinnati was a success.
Dohoney isn’t going to waste anytime finding a replacement. He said he plans to begin the process for a nationwide search for the next police chief on Wednesday.
“I’m going to do a nationwide search, and if I find the best person is close, I’ll do that,” Dohoney said Tuesday at City Hall following a press conference announcing Craig’s resignation. “If I think the best person lives somewhere else, I’ll bring them to Cincinnati.”
Dohoney will sit down with human resources director Georgetta Kelly to advertise the job and expects the search to last through the summer. He doesn’t believe potential applicants will be discouraged from applying, despite the looming possibility of 66 police layoffs.
“The fact that the department is going through a possible layoff, I don’t think that will dissuade them from applying if they’re the right person,” Dohoney said.
Despite Craig, who was the first external hire for the police department, departing after only a little less than two years, Dohoney said that won’t factor into a nationwide search.
“The citizens of the city changed the charter to make it possible for the best person in the country to be chosen, so the fact that this chief is leaving, does not mean you retreat from that… the law says anybody can be chief,” Dohoney said.
Dohoney said he wants someone who is committed to community engagement and who will honor the collaborative agreement, which was implemented following the 2001 riots to be "an alternative dispute resolution effort to resolve social conflict, improve community relations, and avoid divisive litigation," U.S. District Court documents state.
"I'm a hands-on recruiter when it comes to that," Dohoney said. "I'll get who I'm looking for."
In 2001, voters passed Issue 5, which enabled the city manager to have the option to conduct national searches and assess applicants. For now, Assistant Chief Paul Humphries will serve as interim chief when Craig officially resigns on June 22.
He declined to say if he was interested in the position full-time.
“Today’s about Chief Craig and the last 20 months, we can talk about that later,” Humphries said when asked if he was going to apply for the chief position. “The things that the chief has done, he has been open, he has been transparent – we’re going to continue that.”
Humphries, a 1984 Xavier University graduate, has been with the police department since March 1986, serving in three of the city’s five districts.
“Paul has been with me since day one, he understands the department of this department,” Craig said Tuesday. “The work will continue … As I start the transition of moving on, I’m very comfortable – the city is going to soar and this department is going to continue to soar.”
Humphries helped administer an audit of the department when Craig first arrived and is credited with helping the department transform it’s top-down culture.
“Policing 30 years ago was about locking up bad guys, but today it plays a very important part of driving the economic engine of the city,” Humphries said. “I intend to work very closely with the city administration. This is a very, very good city.”
Along with Assistant Chief James L. Whalen and newly appointed Assistant Chief Dave Dailey, Humphries said he wants to continue data-driven policing directives that Craig promoted.
Craig introduced the STARS program, or Strategic & Tactical Analytic Review for Solutions. It’s a weekly breakdown of crime data by district so commanders can view updated statistics for specific neighborhoods.
After his first full year in command in 2012, total violent crimes were down 15 percent from the previous year; homicides were down 26 percent; and total property crimes were down 4 percent, according to the year-end STARS report.