No-confidence vote looms for Cincinnati police chief - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

No-confidence vote looms for Cincinnati police chief

Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell addresses the recent talks of a no confidence vote looming at an upcoming FOP special meeting with supporters by his side,  (Source: Chris Waldmann, FOX19 NOW) Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell addresses the recent talks of a no confidence vote looming at an upcoming FOP special meeting with supporters by his side, (Source: Chris Waldmann, FOX19 NOW)

A no-confidence in Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell is expected among the city's police union leadership during at special, closed door meeting later this month.

The Sept. 14 session will be held so members can address staffing issues and morale, Police Union President Kathy Harrell said Wednesday.

"In the last month I have been inundated with phone calls about members wanting a special meeting to deal and discuss morale, staffing levels and other issues that we would move forward with to take to the city manager and the mayor. Issues that they felt weren't being addressed by the police chief or the command staff," Harrell said.

With word of the meeting out, the chief held a late night press conference Wednesday where he declared: "I'm confident I will remain the chief.

"Votes of no-confidence in policing are not uncommon. They simply are not that uncommon. They've happened in several other cities," he said.

But not in Cincinnati. Should such a vote occur, it would be the first time. The police union hasn't held a special meeting in years.

"Historically FOP presidents and major city chiefs have friction. I didn’t know that the friction was like that here. I’ve never been apprised by her that there’s been friction personally, but we’re just going to keep moving forward," said Blackwell Thursday.

Blackwell said Wednesday he wasn't sure what the FOP or what Harrell was saying about staffing and morale.

"Staffing is higher than it's been in six years. Staffing in patrol is higher now than it's been in six years," he said.

The chief said he has worked diligently since he began working as Cincinnati's top cop to improve the city.

"My focus, my platforms, have been on uplifting the people in this community. I want to edify this city. I want to build this city. I want to help this city improve, and I think I have done that," he said.

On City council and in the community, Blackwell’s performance has earned him a lot of support. Council woman Yvette Simpson says she stands behind Blackwell.  

"He is working in the community. He is working on long term and short term objectives despite a lot of pressure. I mean he's a chief that people like. He's visible. You know the police department is nationally regarded and he's a part of that so constituents seem to support him overwhelmingly," Simpson said.

Reverend Pete Mingo with Christ Temple Full Gospel Baptist Church in Walnut Hills says Blackwell is popular.

"There's really a high vote of confidence on his behalf. People seem to like his personality, his outgoing spirit, his availability, the programs that he's initiated for the young people of this city," Mingo said.

Blackwell stressed that he is committed to the people of Cincinnati and to his officers.

He has been under fire to reduce crime in Cincinnati. Last month, Blackwell said he feels the city, “is making progress” with the 90-day plan to reduce violence after shootings hit a 10-year high.

More recently, on Monday, he told City Council's Law and Public Safety Committee shootings so far this year are up 32 percent.

Since June, the agency's 23-officer Gang Enforcement Squad, has targeted “high profile offenders and trigger pullers” Blackwell said.

Nearly 100 suspects - 98 - were arrested on 281 charges since June. Most of the charges and citations were for miscellaneous traffic violations and drug possession.

The enforcement squad confiscated over $382,000 worth of drugs and guns.  

The 90-day plan, which was delayed a few weeks this summer over the in-the-line-of-duty death of Officer Sonny Kim, will likely continue into the fall.

Blackwell's press conference and word of the police union no-confidence vote come as the city prepares to release a survey of the police department's climate, one that has been ready but not released to the public.

In late May, City Manager Harry Black prepared separation papers for the chief after Blackwell suggested he might quit.

The papers were never signed and Blackwell insisted he wanted to stay. A group of African-American law enforcement officers, the Sentinels, announced they unanimously took a vote of confidence in the chief.

"I feel good, I feel safe and secure. I know I've done a good job and, you know, I'm not going to buy into the negative media stuff that's been put out there purposely," Blackwell said.

Blackwell describes that negative media stuff, like talk of a no confidence vote as a distraction and says it’s part of the job.

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