CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Cincinnati Police Chief James E. Craig is not a certified police officer in the state of Ohio.
Despite 36 years of being in policing, Craig was hired by city leaders last summer from Portland, Maine where he had been the chief there for two years. He became the first Police Chief in Cincinnati's history to be hired from outside the department and outside the state.
City leaders involved in the hiring, specifically the City Manager Milton Dohoney, did not know that an officer coming into Ohio from another state has to pass a certification exam.
"I think if they were aware of it they would have probably taken into consideration the idea of putting it into the position announcement," said Craig. "That wasn't a condition of my employment."
In addition, out of state officers' previous training must be compatible and approved by The Ohio Peace Officers Training Commission (OPOTC) which is the state agency which certifies police officers.
Craig completed the training years ago when he was a rookie with the Los Angeles Police Department.
"California POST requirements exceed that of Ohio's OPOTC," he said. "So where, I might ask, does it say that I arbitrarily sit through 30 hours of class, which I did, and then take a 200 question police officer exam? I'm just trying to understand it."
He has been denied certification and has appealed. A hearing is scheduled for July 19 in London, Ohio.
"It is my expectation that they waive the test (requirement) because if the City of Cincinnati wanted to hire me as a police officer, I probably would not have applied for the job. I applied for the job as police chief," he said.
He says he reads the blogs and the posts on the Internet and disagrees with those who say he should just take the test.
"They say, 'Why don't I just take the test and be done with it?' As I've said before, I'm not taking a police officer examination. It's a matter of principle, it's the right thing to do," said Chief Craig.
Officials from the Ohio Attorney General's Office, which is the governing agency for OPOTC, told FOX19 News that they've never made an exception to a peace officer having to pass the test. The OPOTC board consists of other law enforcement officers including the Superintendent of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, but no one from Cincinnati, Cleveland or Columbus.
"Do you think it's fair that a board that evaluates my background and experience has several police chiefs that lead very small police agencies. Then the next question I would ask is why on a state board are the big three police departments not even represented," asked Craig.
However, despite all this, if Craig is not able to become a certified police officer he can remain Chief in Cincinnati because there's not an ordinance in city law requiring the Chief to be legally certified. He would not have the powers normally provided to officers including the ability to make arrests.
In reality, this would not hinder him as it would be atypical for the Police Chief in a city the size of Cincinnati to be arresting people anyway. He could still carry a gun because any citizen can carry a gun as long as it doesn't violate Ohio's Concealed Carry laws.