Cincinnati Settled With Former Police Chief Blackwell In August

Dec 28, 2016

Former Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell.
Credit Jay Hanselman / WVXU

Cincinnati and former Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell reached a negotiated settlement agreement in August, which ended his threat to take any legal action against the city for his termination in September 2015.

The details of the agreement were released Wednesday following a public records requests from The Cincinnati Business Courier.  Reporter Chris Wetterich told WVXU he had heard rumors about such a settlement and made the request last week.

In a statement, Solicitor Paula Boggs said Blackwell asserted several claims.  But she says her office did not consider any of them to have merit.

"Nevertheless, given the costs and inherent uncertainty of litigation, the city reached a favorable resolution of the issues and avoided a protracted lawsuit that would have burdened and distracted city officials from their mission of serving the people of Cincinnati," Boggs Muething said in the statement.

The city agreed to the following:

  • To pay Blackwell a lump sum to 1.5 years salary, including $10,000 annual bonus.  That totaled $170,850.
  • The city will provide Blackwell one-year health care reimbursement.
  • The city will return Blackwell's two service weapons, cover and badge.
  • The city will pay $84,150 to Freking Myers & Reul, LLC, for attorney fee.
  • City records will be amended to reflect Blackwell resignation.
  • The city will not disparage Blackwell.

Blackwell also agreed to several items in the settlement:

  • He promised to not file any lawsuits, administrative charges or complaints of any kind relating to the issues concerning his employment with the city.
  • He fully and completely released the city, council members, and others from any and all claims related to his employment with the city.
  • He agreed not to seek re-employment with the city.
  • He agreed not to disparage the city or City Manager Harry Black.

Blackwell and his attorney signed the settlement agreement on August 12.  City Manager Black signed the document on August 26.

Meanwhile, city Council Member Chris Seelbach said on Twitter Wednesday that Council was never told about the settlement with Blackwell.  He said he is drafting a motion requiring notification of Council on all future settlements.

Black terminated Blackwell's employment on September 9, 2015.  In a 35-page document, Black cited "lack of sufficient and proper communication" and "consistent and pervasive disregard for chain of command."

Morale in the department, Black wrote, "is at an unprecedented low level, and the general sentiment throughout the department is that Mr. Blackwell's  leadership has created a work environment of hostility and retaliation."

Documents included in the city’s release outline myriad problems with the chief and his leadership style. He is depicted as unprofessional, uncommunicative, and disrespectful to officers and other staff. There are repeated instances of the chief reportedly berating co-workers.

Black named then Assistant Chief Eliot Isaac to be the named Interim Chief.  He was later given the job permanently.

Blackwell had threatened legal action against the city immediately following his dismissal.

Blackwell suffered a stroke earlier this year and has been in rehabilitation since that event.

WVXU's Howard Wilkinson contributed to this story.