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Cincinnatians question the four finalists for Police Chief

westwood police chief forum photo.jpg
Becca Costello
/
WVXU
From left: Larry Boone, Todd Chamberlain, Lisa Davis, and Teresa Theetge.

Over a hundred people joined two public meetings this week to meet four finalists for the job of Cincinnati Police Chief.

The finalists answered questions at a forum Tuesday night in Pleasant Ridge and Wednesday night in Westwood. Click here to jump to videos of each forum.

The finalists are:

  • Interim Police Chief Teresa Theetge
  • former Norfolk, Va. Police Chief Larry Boone
  • Todd Chamberlain, a public safety consultant and former police chief for Los Angeles School Police Department
  • Assistant Cincinnati Police Chief Lisa Davis

Theetge has been serving as interim chief since Chief Eliot Issac retired earlier this year.

Cincinnati City Manager Sheryl Long will make the final decision on who to hire; she says the finalists have been through "extensive internal interviews."

Each candidate had two minutes for introduction and to explain why they want to be the city's next police chief. Click here to jump to a transcript of each statement from Tuesday's meeting, as well as each cover letter and resume.

The candidates addressed questions on officer morale, systemic racism, pedestrian safety, school resource officers, responding to mental health crises, how to decrease crime and gun violence, and how to engage with youth.

Davis says when it comes to systemic racism, training needs to be expanded.

"Imagine us partnering with the Freedom Center, where we have our recruits actually go there for a few days to learn these backstories and learn about the biases in policing and learn about the history of racism in this country?" Davis said.

Boone says training isn't enough.

"This topic has been coming up for decade after decades after decade after decade," he said. "And the reason it because as a country, we've never really addressed it. We go through processes that make us feel good. But how do we measure what we're doing?"

Theetge says training is a good first step, but acknowledged the department's recent problem with officers caught using racial slurs on duty. Looking ahead: "We just keep gathering the data, putting it out there so that we are as transparent as we can possibly be on everything from our traffic stops or arrest data, or calls for service, anything and everything."

Chamberlain says training won't be effective unless officers buy in to the process.

"A lot of people in law enforcement think, 'I don't need this training; I'm not a racist, I've never been a racist, I don't need implicit bias training,' " he said. "Well, I think you got to understand what that is — When you think of implicit bias ... it's not an overt level."

You can watch the candidates respond to other questions in the videos below.

More information about the hiring process is online. You can also submit comments and feedback there.

City Manager Long says she'll announce her final selection by the end of the year.

Watch the public forums

November 30, Westwood: video will be available from Citicable soon. Until then, watch on the city's Facebook page here.

Candidate statements & resumes

Larry Boone

Good evening everyone. I want to thank you all for showing up. It clearly highlights how important this event is for you all. And trust me, it's important to myself as well as my colleagues. A little bit about me: I am from Norfolk, Virginia, it looks a lot like Cincinnati, in terms of population, challenges, poverty. I said earlier this morning that I am a good fit for this community. I've demonstrated by way of making difficult decisions, bringing those communities that historically had been viewed upon as underdogs together with the status quo. What you'll get from me is a straight shooter; a straight shooter that will deliver measurable outcomes. Now, let me just say this. It's been a very, very difficult time in law enforcement. Our women and men have struggled. And I think it's vitally important that we recognize their efforts as we go through these processes. And I can assure them, because I know that they're listening, that if they do their job within the Constitution, in their training, they will always have my support; anything differently, they will be held accountable.

Todd Chamberlain

Good evening, everyone. Thank you so much for showing up today. And it's a pleasure to be here with you to have a discussion about this incredibly important position for the city of Cincinnati. I'd also like to thank Teresa, and Lisa, and Larry here for being part of this as well, because again, the work that we're involved in, the work that we've all done, is incredibly, incredibly challenging. But it's also something we do from our heart, because we truly care. So having the opportunity to stand in front of the people that we hope to someday serve and articulate out some of those reasons is amazing. I'd also like to thank Iris for giving a background or a view of where Cincinnati has been. And again, where we will hopefully take it in the future, where you will hopefully take it in the future. I have 35 years in law enforcement experience. I've seen the good, and I've seen the bad, and I know the impact it can have in the good in the bad. And I think it's always an evolving practice. I think without question, it's a profession. It's a profession that you commit yourself to, to service to others. And I think there's always that possibility to do it with the community, and do it with the needs of that community. And making sure that the personnel, the officers, the community are working in partnership, not fighting each other. It's not always going to be perfect. But it's about having those discussions, those hard discussions so that the end game is service to others. I was with Los Angeles Police Department for about 33 plus years, I was the chief of police with Los Angeles Unified School Police. I'm now working at a company which I think is very important to this discussion tonight. And it's an analytics company. And it's the opportunity to look at analytics from the perspective of how can it impact law enforcement? Again, if you can tell in an analytics position, where's the best place to place a red dress? Or where's something going to sell? I think you can also use analytics to say, how can we do things better? How can we do things better that are going to be more measurable, more tangible and more important to the people that we serve? And so again, to have the privilege to sit here tonight and answer your questions, I truly look forward. And thank you very much.

Lisa Davis

Good evening, everyone. It's so nice to be here. And thank you all for coming out. I'm very happy to be here. I said earlier, I'm a hometown girl. Grew up here spent my entire professional career here with Cincinnati Police Department. And I like to tell the story of how I got into policing because you know, looking at that video, it's painful. It is painful to look at our city and where we've came from. I grew up in Lower Price Hill. And I clearly remember the police coming to my house in Price Hill looking for or my uncle [who] was wanted for some questioning in something. And the officers climbing the stairs to go get him and he trips, the officer trips up the steps. And he says, "Oh, well, Brad Wells is going to pay for that." And the next thing I know, my uncle is falling two stories over, where he's thrown over the railing. And in that moment, when you think about what that does to, you know, a child witnessing that, you can look at and think all police are bad, and this is the way police behave. But it was relationships that I had formed outside of that with my school resource officer, you know, and I grew up right down the street from District Three. So having those relationships, those positive relationships, I was able to take from that that, look, there's good and bad, and I wanted to be part of the good. And that's what drew me to this job. After high school, graduated from Western Hills High School, went into the Navy, and came to this job. So I am a proud Cincinnatian. Proud to be here. And I look forward to answering your questions. Thank you.

Teresa Theetge

Good evening, everybody. And thank you for taking the time out of your day to come join us here tonight. I especially want to recognize the other three candidates sitting up here with me for enduring this process and doing so well to this date. To the city manager and the city administration here: thank you so much for hosting this and for doing such a thorough process. At the end of the day when the selection is made, nobody can say that their voice wasn't heard or they weren't given an opportunity to weigh in on this selection because it is a critical selection. So I was born and raised in Cincinnati as well. I think Colonel Davis and I have a little bit of similar backgrounds born and raised in Price Hill, Covedale area, Western Hills High School graduate, just like Lisa. My reason for getting in law enforcement is a little bit different. I'm from a family of law enforcement professionals, three generations now with the Cincinnati Police Department. I love being a part of public service. I love being a part of Cincinnati's public service, not just police, fire, the public safety aspect, but all of our city employees, they do an amazing job every day; you should be very, very proud of them. And I think everybody in this room, if you've not thought about it, I would encourage you to think about where we are now because of the collaborative agreement, how far we have come, and where we could be if we didn't have it. I don't think that would be the best picture of where we would want to be right now. And so I will try to answer your questions as thoroughly as possible. We each get two minutes. I know that's not a long amount of time. So if anybody in this room wants to follow up on some dialog with me, feel free to reach out to my office and I'm happy to continue the conversations.

Becca Costello grew up in Williamsburg and Batavia (in Clermont County) listening to WVXU. Before joining the WVXU newsroom, she worked in public radio & TV journalism in Bloomington, Indiana and Lincoln, Nebraska. Becca has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including from local chapters of the Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists, and contributed to regional and national Murrow Award winners. Becca has a master's degree in journalism from Indiana University and a bachelor's degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Becca's dog Cincy (named for the city they once again call home) is even more anxious than she is.