FOP President Expects No-Confidence Vote At Special Meeting
Update 10:50 p.m.: Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffery Blackwell says votes of no confidence are not uncommon in police departments. Blackwell says he's been told it's never happened in Cincinnati, and he felt it was important to respond. Blackwell says he has worked diligently for the city and for the department."My decisions have been made with the best interests of my entire department every time I've made a decision," says Blackwell. "My decisions have also been made with the best interests of the City of Cincinnati."
Blackwell said he had not had a chance to talk about the upcoming FOP vote with the mayor or the city manager. He did say civic leaders asked him to speak in order to "get out in front of this."
He said previous meetings gave FOP president Kathy Harrell and the union no reason to be unhappy with him.
"She's come to my office two or three dozen times in my tenure as chief and every time she's left with the solution that she wanted for the FOP and the officers. One hundred percent of the time that has happened."
Blackwell says officers should vote their hearts when the time comes.
Original Post 4:22 p.m.: Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police President Kathy Harrell says she expects members will hold a vote of no confidence in Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell at a special FOP meeting scheduled for later this month.
In a letter to represented officers announcing the September 14 meeting, Harrell says it was requested by numerous FOP members concerned about morale and staffing levels.
The special meeting will start at 6:30 p.m.
For months, police staffing has been an issue. The FOP president calls it "critically low." Harrell says working conditions are unsafe and morale is low because officers can't get time off.
She says she's never seen it as bad as it has been, "and only hopefully there will be change because it's needed and hopefully at some point someone has to listen."
In April, Harrell told Cincinnati City Council the authorized level has always been 1,135 officers. She said it seems to have shifted to 1,000 and that's a problem. "If you expect us to continue to be the best police department in the country, and you create units and continually take away from the districts, it's very important to understand that we're not going to continue to remain number one in the country."
New Recruit Class
Cincinnati Council voted last month to start a recruit class on January 3, 2016, instead of sometime in February.
As WVXU's Jay Hanselman previously reported:
Some on Council were pushing for an even earlier start date, but the police department said it could not do that. Council Member Chris Seelbach supported the change.
“Our police officers play an incredibly important role in making sure our city is safe and we don’t have enough officers,” Seelbach said. “This is the right decision, it will make us safer. It is not the silver bullet, but it will make our city a better place.”
The January recruit class will have at least 40 members, and could increase to 55 if the city receives a federal COPS hiring grant.