Police groups take opposite sides in conflict between mayor, city manager

Posted at 1:00 AM, Mar 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-15 05:43:00-04

CINCINNATI -- Leaders of two major police organizations took opposite sides in the ongoing conflict between City Manager Harry Black and Mayor John Cranley, who wants Black to resign, on Wednesday. 

In a news conference, Louis Arnold Sr. said the Sentinels Police Association -- Cincinnati's black police group -- felt strongly Black should keep his post in order to maintain forward momentum for the Collaborative Agreement refresh. 

"What I would love to see happen is the city manager remain in his position, the chief remain in his position, and they continue to work that collaborative refresh," Arnold, the Sentinels' president, said. "I don't think people understand how important that is to our city."

The Collaborative Agreement is a document outlining best practices for police to form trusting partnerships and facilitate safe interactions with the communities they patrol, especially communities comprising largely black populations. It was created in 2002 after the shooting death of Timothy Thomas, a black teenager, at the hands of a city officer. 

"Refreshing" the agreement entails revisiting and revising its original provisions to fit the social landscape of 2018.

Arnold added he believed Black was "being attacked for doing his job" and criticized the leader of the police union -- Fraternal Order of Police president Dan Hils -- for negative comments about the city manager.

"He represents all members of the Cincinnati Police Department, but his statements are not representative of all officers," Arnold said, citing a 2017 comment Hils made about the difficulty of "policing in an urban ghetto environment." 

Hils apologized for said comment shortly after it was publicized.

"Dan Hill has divided many members of the FOP along racial lines," Arnold continued. "As the FOP president, his job is to represent every member of the FOP equally, and he does not do that at all."

Hils issued the following statement in response, referring to Black as "the true divider" in city politics:

There are people calling me divisive, even some of my police brothers and sisters. I support their right to express their opinion. I know that I am not perfect, but my heart is not a divisive one, especially as it relates to my fellow officers.

I know what is divisive. Divisive is an unsubstantiated accusation by the very top of city administration of there being a "rogue element" in our police department. A rogue element motivated by race no less. A racist rogue element so serious that outside help is needed, yet no one from the outside is called.

Members of our union have been accused of being dividers and even much worse. I stood with them not because of friendship or personal reward, but because it was the right thing to do.

I have experienced the hostility of the "true divider" first hand. From the looks of recently filed federal law suits, at least five other city employees have experienced the hostility of the "true divider" as well.

The "true divider" received an extremely generous offer to help Cincinnati move forward. The "true divider" instead will force council and the public to have hearings that will hurt and divide so many.

The "true divider" will more than likely continue to collect law suits that will belong to the tax payers in the end. He will cost the city so much more than any buy out would cost. The "true divider" will have others throw stones as he watches the hostility grow, but it was never really his town. This town belongs to the citizens and its faithful employees and we will overcome the divisiveness he has created.

Hils had been personally involved in some of the controversy surrounding Black, whom Cranley described as retaliatory, threatening and abusive toward those who disagreed with him.

Black made a late-night phone call to Hils in November 2017, during which he accused Hils and another police leader of intentionally blocking work the city's Citizen Complaint Authority. Black threatened to pull out of the Collaborative refresh and added: "I will let the entire world know why I am doing it -- it will be because of you."