City will look inside and out for new chief

Posted at 4:51 PM, Sep 28, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-28 16:51:33-04

CINCINNATI – The city will look inside and out for its 15th police chief, a city spokesperson told WCPO Monday.

The job will be posted  in "mid-late October" and is "open to external and internal candidates," spokesperson Rocky Merz said in an email.

Cincinnati used to hire its chiefs strictly from within, but it was forced to open the process to outside candidates when city voters approved a charter amendment after the 2001 riots. Court challenges from the FOP prevented it from going into effect until 2009.

Issue 5, as the amendment appeared on the ballot, gave the city manager the power to hire and fire police and fire chiefs and assistant chiefs, Before that, those positions were filled by civil service test scores.

The last two permanent chiefs, Jeffrey Blackwell and James Craig, were the first to be hired from outside CPD. They also were the city's first African-American police chiefs.

Interim Chief Eliot Isaac, who took over when Blackwell was fired Sept. 9, is expected to seek the permanent job. Lt. Col. Dave Bailey, promoted to Isaac's job as Interim Executive Assistant Chief, applied for chief when Blackwell got the job in 2013 and might again.

Both Isaac and Bailey came up in the ranks of CPD. Isaac is African-American.

RELATED: Will interim police leaders apply?

Mayor John Cranley has already thrown his support behind Isaac, and City Manager Harry Black, who will make the call, is clearly an Isaac fan. It was Black who fired Blackwell. It was Black who appointed Issac Executive Assistant Chief in August and then made him Interim Chief just six weeks later.

Black said he fired Blackwell because his leadership style created "a work environment of hostility and retaliation." Department morale had sunk to "an unprecedented low level," Black said.

SEE Black's report on firing Blackwell

Craig was hired here from Portland, Maine, in 2011 and left in 2013 to become chief in Detroit, his hometown. Blackwell was deputy chief in Columbus.

Another CPD leader who might apply is Interim Assistant Chief Doug Wiesman. He also came up through the ranks, but he did not apply in 2013.

The only other CPD officers who applied in 2013 have left the force. Paul Humphries served as interim police chief during that search. Humphries took a job in Florida this year. Former District 1 Capt. Gary Lee has since retired and is running for Hamilton County sheriff.

SEE the list of applicants in 2013.