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Cincinnati Council Rejects Independent Investigation Of Former Police Chief's Firing

Jay Hanselman
Former Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell.

A Cincinnati Council committee has rejected a proposal to hire an outside independent counsel to investigate whether Mayor John Cranley had a role in firing former Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell.  
City Council's Budget and Finance Committee discussed the motion Monday and ultimately five council members voted to file, or drop, the motion. Members Mann, Murray, Flynn, Sittenfeld and Smitherman voted to file. Three others - Seelbach, Young and Simpson - were in favor of moving forward. Charlie Winburn abstained.  

Mann said it is time to move on. "I think we're spending a lot of time on something that has very little to do with the quality of life in this community," Mann said. "Very little to do with the positive things that this council should be doing in this very challenging year. That's our role, not to keep looking backwards."

At least three council members wanted an independent investigator to determine if Mayor Cranley ordered Blackwell's dismissal. Young said the city charter gives personnel decisions to the city manager only.

"Did the mayor have a role in that firing and did the role he had violate the city charter," Young asked. "It's a question all of us should want to have the answer to whether we believe an investigation is the right way to go about it. I don't happen to know of another way to go about it."

Last week the mayor said the decision to dismiss Blackwell was City Manager Harry Black's and the manager said the same thing during a news conference.  

The issue came to light after an email was released recently between Cranley and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. It suggested perhaps Cranley was involved in Blackwell's dismissal.

The city did reach a settlement agreement with the former chief for more than $250,000 and changed city records to indicate that he resigned instead of being terminated. The settlement was reached in August, 2016, but details were not released until last week following media stories about the email between Cranley and Emanuel.