© 2023 Cincinnati Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Lt. Col. Theetge will be Cincinnati's interim police chief, and the first woman to lead CPD

Lt. Col. Teresa Theetge will serve as Interim Chief of the Cincinnati Police Department.
Becca Costello
Lt. Col. Teresa Theetge will serve as Interim Chief of the Cincinnati Police Department.

Lt. Col. Teresa Theetge will serve as interim chief of the Cincinnati Police Department, the first woman to lead the agency. City administration is conducting a nationwide search for a permanent chief as Eliot Isaac retires.

Theetge has 31 years of experience with CPD. She is currently executive assistant chief and the highest ranking woman in the department. She says working with Chief Isaac has prepared her to step into his role.

"I've always had a very open and honest relationship with Chief Isaac," Theetge said. "We've had discussions that I felt very strongly about and he always offered me an opportunity to voice my opinion. And then we work it out at the end, we figure out what's best for the department; what's best for the city."

Theetge says she is committed to being as inclusive as possible and participating in the Collaborative Agreement, which she says is "an excellent working document that has served us well for many years."

She said she's focused on leading CPD during this transition and wouldn't say whether she will apply for the permanent position (but, she added, "never say never").

"We're approaching springtime weather that oftentimes, data shows us, brings us an uptick in violent crime," Theetge said. "So I'll be working with my counterparts to figure out a plan to make sure that the city is safe as possible through the spring and summer months and beyond."

Hiring the police chief is the responsibility of the city manager, another role with an interim leader right now. Mayor Aftab Pureval says the search for a new city manager will be similar to the police chief.

"Both of these national searches were started the day I got into office," Pureval said. "Our goal is for the city manager search to conclude prior to the police chief's search so that the new city manager can have a say."

Interim City Manager John Curp is not involved in the search for his permanent replacement, but will oversee the process for selecting a police chief. He says "community engagement" is not a cliché for this administration.

"We're going to try to measure results as to how many people we touch, how many communities we reach out to," Curp said. "And quite frankly, do we reach the people that aren't normally heard in these types of processes? So it's going to be thorough; it's going to be complete."

Curp outlined initial plans for that engagement, with input sought from citizens, neighborhood organizations, the business community, police rank and file, the FOP, etc.

"I anticipate consulting the community members that will assist me and our outside experts in vetting applicants and producing a shortlist of candidates that will be subject to interviews," Curp said. "Two to three finalists will come to Cincinnati for in-person interviews, including an opportunity for members of the public to ask questions and a town hall format."

Tentative timeline:

  • March 1: Final selection of an executive search firm
  • Mid-March: Engagement plan released
  • March-May: Community engagement process
  • July-August: Finalist interviews and final selection

Curp says he doesn’t want to sacrifice quality for a deadline, so the timeline could change.
Council Member Scotty Johnson is chair of the Public Safety and Governance Committee, and a former CPD officer. Although council has no official role in choosing the police chief, Johnson says he wants to be actively involved in the process.

"With my knowledge of executive police work, I think that input also will be vital because I do understand the culture, understand the men and women who serve every day — I served with them," Johnson said. "So making sure that community input is significant, and also making sure that whoever the chief is, has a clear understanding of what we expect here when it comes to police service."

Chief Isaac's last working day is Friday, Feb. 18.

"By no means am I done," Isaac said. "I love this city. I'll be back in some capacity somewhere. And my support will always be there."

Isaac will consult during the hiring process, but wouldn't say what else he might do in Cincinnati after retirement.

Related: About to retire, Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac talks about his 3+ decades in policing

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.