Amid Crime Increase, Officer Unrest, Cincinnati Chief On The Brink


Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell has been under fire for months and the next several days could be crucial to his future, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer. A report on department morale is due out. The police union has scheduled a meeting where there likely will be a vote of no confidence. Could the chief get fired? The decision is up to City Manager Harry Black and he isn't saying. Blackwell almost left in May when he suggested during a conversation with Black he might quit. Now he says he's not going anywhere. As rumors of his departure swirl, Blackwell seems to be losing support inside City Hall, while some in the community have started social media campaigns to keep him in the $135,000-a-year post.

Crime is up. Serious crimes citywide increased 3 percent from 2014 to 2015. Violent crime is up 3 percent from 2014 to 2015 through Aug. 22, going from 1,462 crimes to 1,511. Shootings have gone from 236 in 2014 to 307 in 2015 – a 30.1 percent increase. At the start of the summer, the city manager called on Blackwell to reduce shootings citywide by 5 percent and reduce overall crime by 10 percent. A summer safety plan morphed three times and, according to Black, was never really implemented. The chief's top staff complain he is a poor communicator. After repeated complaints about officer morale, Black ordered a climate assessment. The report is almost done. After climate assessments at the city's recreation department and public services department last year, both got new leaders. In the first 20 months on the job, Blackwell took 37 trips, earning him the nickname “Ghost.” That moniker angers the chief, who says he has rarely taken a vacation.

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