City investigating comments in police newsletter; Chief apologiz - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

City investigating comments in police newsletter; Chief apologizes to officers

Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell is apologizing for controversial comments included in a department newsletter. (FOX19 NOW file) Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell is apologizing for controversial comments included in a department newsletter. (FOX19 NOW file)
Mayor John Cranley says the newsletter is "inappropriate." (FOX19 NOW file) Mayor John Cranley says the newsletter is "inappropriate." (FOX19 NOW file)
City Manager Harry Black is investigating after controversial comments turned up in a police department newsletter. His office will now review and approve all police newsletters. (FOX19 NOW file) City Manager Harry Black is investigating after controversial comments turned up in a police department newsletter. His office will now review and approve all police newsletters. (FOX19 NOW file)
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The city is investigating controversial comments in a monthly newsletter put out by the Cincinnati Police Department's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender liaison officer.

Chief Jeffrey Blackwell issued an agency-wide apology Thursday for the publication that went to about 1,000 officers earlier this month.

Among comments offending some officers include this excerpt cited from a recent online article in the Huffington Post.

"Homes that deny transgender identities result in a suicide-attempt rate that's 14 times higher than in homes where such identities are accepted," the newsletter quotes from the article. "If you belong to a religion that denies transgender identities and put money in the collection plate or pay your 10 percent tithe, you are bankrolling the slaughter of innocents. You can claim you love LGBT people all day, but as long as you're footing the bill for propaganda that's literally killing children, you are an accessory." 

The January 2015 newsletter "On The Beat In The LGBT Community" also is raising eyebrows for listing "supportive places of worship in Greater Cincinnati." 

This month's publication highlights the December suicide of Leelah Alcorn, a Warren County transgender teen whose suicide on Interstate 71 sparked an international discussion on the topic.

Blackwell said in his apology opinions in the newsletter are not the expressed ones of the department and the purpose of the newsletter is to inform and educate, not to offend or discriminate.

He pledged to review future copies of all departmental newsletters "in an effort to guard against potentially sensitive content."

"I want to apologize if anyone was offended by the author's opinion in this very real social issue," the chief wrote. "We will review future copies of all departmental newsletters in an effort to guard against potentially sensitive content. we will also ensure that these newsletters are placed in the H-drive and NOT sent to each of you individually."

Mayor John Cranley is not happy the comments were included in a city publication. City Manager Harry Black discussed the issue with the chief, and now all newsletters must first be vetted by Black's office before they go out, sources tell FOX19 NOW.

"The newsletter is inappropriate," Cranley said in a statement provided to FOX19 NOW. "Government should not be telling people where to worship. The city manager is investigating this incident, which will not be repeated."

In an interview Friday morning, Blackwell said he only received three or four email complaints about the newsletter and far more praising the liaison officer, Angie Vance, and the work she does with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

"It was an unintended consequence of trying to do something great, of trying to be a cutting edge agency that is inclusive of the entire community," the chief said. "Angie Vance is a tremendous police officer. In fact we've received more letters since the complaint emails supporting her and the work that she is doing, the very valuable work that she does in this community. 

"And we're not going to stop that work so, as far as I am concerned, the situation is over," Blackwell continued. "We've apologized. We've put in another layer of protection to kind of have some oversight of those newsletters before they are disseminated and we feel that is sufficient."

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