CINCINNATI – Cincinnati police will make history next week when women will lead two police districts at the same time for the first time in its 209-year history.
Plus, the police department will officially have three female captains overseeing agency sections and district commands – the most at any one time.
With the upcoming retirement of the department’s longest-tenured captain, Gary Lee, Chief Jeffrey Blackwell is expected to promote District 4 Lt. Maris Herold to district commander and move Capt. Bridget Bardua from the special investigations section to oversee operations in District 5. District captains act almost like police chiefs in their districts supervising hundreds of police officers and are directly accountable to residents.
Herold joins Bardua and Capt. Teresa Theetge, who currently serves as the internal affairs commander.
Blackwell’s decision represents a commitment on his part to develop an internal culture of leadership that filters out onto city streets, he said. He said he wants to encourage his commanders to take more of a leadership role, and the promotion of another woman into the captain’s rank, just one step away from assistant chief, is another piece of the puzzle that’s falling into place.
The promotions show the department is making progress, though it remains an "evolving organization," Blackwell said. A little less than one-quarter of sworn Cincinnati police officers are women.
Bardua was promoted to captain in January. There’s been a total of seven women to earn the rank of captain in the department’s history, including Harold, Bardua and Theetge, Blackwell said.
“I operate on a platform of inclusion and diversity,” Blackwell told WCPO on Tuesday. “In some agencies, running a beat or a district is not a big to-do, but in Cincinnati, it is – some positions are more coveted, such as district commands.”
Cincinnati Police Captains
- District 1 –Mike John
- District 2 –Jeffrey Butler Jr.
- District 3 –Daniel Gerard
- District 4 – Maris Herold
- District 5 – Bridget Bardua
- Central Business District – Mike Neville
- Special Investigations – Paul Neudigate
- Patrol Administration – Paul Broxterman
- Internal Affairs – Teresa Theetge
- Criminal Investigations – Eliot Isaac
- Training Academy – Douglas Wiesman
- Special Services - Russ Neville
Blackwell views the latest round of promotions as a path toward succession, perhaps eventually for his own job. As with any business or organization, a top leader’s role is to ensure the organization is in good hands long after their gone, he said.
But he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
“As we talk about making this place better for the future, and leaving it better than it was, it was the right thing to do to put those captains in those key positions so they can develop their careers,” he said.
Blackwell’s style is notably different than the two previous chiefs, and even chiefs who have been promoted within the ranks.
“(Captain) is a rank of leadership in this department that I respect,” Blackwell said. “What I wanted to do was give people the opportunity to have some change in their careers as all of them have aspirations of higher leadership.”
Two Top Commanders Apply For Other Jobs
Assistant police chief James Whalen and Paul Humphries have each applied for top cop jobs that are still close to home.
While not confirmed from the University of Cincinnati, Whalen has applied for its to Director of Public Safety, Blackwell said. Humphries confirmed to WCPO on Monday that he applied to lead the Hamilton County Emergency Management Agency. Whalen, the son of former police chief Lawrence E. Whalen, is the longest-tenured assistant chief with nearly 10 years in the position, while Humphries was former Chief James Craig’s right-hand man in reforming the police department.
Both declined to provide specifics as to why they applied for other jobs.
“They both are looking for opportunities that are opportunities of a lifetime,” Blackwell said. “They’ve both been around here a long time – sometimes the shoe-ins don’t get the top job in their home city, sometimes you have to go elsewhere.
“Are we going to miss them if they are successful in leaving? Sure. But I firmly believe there are captains ready to step up to command positions that have been groomed.”
District 2 commander Jeffrey Butler Jr. recently applied for the West Chester Township police chief job, but did not make it through the initial round of screening. District 3 commander Daniel Gerard was rumored to be interested in the job, but has not applied to date.
“I’m aware of Butler and other captains interested in jobs throughout this area and across the country,” Blackwell said.