CINCINNATI – A few months ago, Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell could have resigned with $150,000 in cash and special benefits. But Blackwell lost that when the city fired him Wednesday.
"He will not get any of the components of the severance package agreed to in May," city spokesperson Rocky Merz said.
That means no full year's salary, no $5,000 lump sum payment and no paid health insurance coverage for a year or until he finds a new job.
Instead, Blackwell will get accrued and unused vacation pay plus health coverage through the end of the month, Merz said. That's it. And the city might contest Blackwell's vacation pay since City Manager Harry Black said, in firing Blackwell, that Blackwell's documentation of his work hours is "not credible."
Blackwell claims he has only taken one day of vacation in two years on the job.
Blackwell said Wednesday that he would sue the city over his termination, so the two sides could end up in court either way.
In May, Blackwell had asked the city to put together a resignation package, but he didn't sign it. The chief was already feeling the heat from Black, though Black denied Blackwell was under any pressure to quit at the time.
SEE the separation and settlement agreement here or below.
Blackwell had actually discussed resigning twice, Black said. The last time was during a meeting May 21. At the time, the city was reeling from a rash of deadly shootings. Shootings across the city were at a nine-year high.
According to documents, Blackwell would have received a year’s salary in three installments: the first payment at the end of fiscal year 2015, and the second and third in fiscal year 2016. Blackwell agreed to a $132,000 annual salary in his first year. It is unclear if he had received a raise since then.
The city also agreed to not ask for the repayment of any relocation fees when Blackwell moved from Columbus in the fall of 2013. In return, Blackwell promised not to file any lawsuits or administrative charges against the city. The agreement states Blackwell and the city would release a mutual press release about Blackwell’s resignation upon signing the document.
“It is important to note that while a conversation did take place, nothing ultimately came from it,” Black said in July. “I am committed to supporting Chief Blackwell and the Cincinnati Police Department as they work diligently to maintain a safe city. This matter is closed.”
Black and Mayor John Cranley told WCPO that city legal staff drafted the documents and they were presented to Blackwell May 21, but no one asked him to leave.
"The chief asked for the documents to see what his options were," Cranley said.
Black told WCPO in May he affirmed to Blackwell that "you're the chief." However, he also said he was concerned that Blackwell's manymedia interviews and speaking engagements might be interfering with his focus on day-to-day management duties at the region's largest police force.
"He is here today," Black said in May. "He's the police chief. He will continue to be the police chief, but he initiated this conversation."
WCPO's Maxim Alter contributed to this report