Civil rights groups call on city, police officials to 'discipline' FOP leader

Civil rights groups call on city, police officials to 'discipline' FOP leader
Cincinnati Police Sgt. Dan Hils at the FOP Hall (FOX19 NOW/Jennifer Baker)

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The Cincinnati NAACP, an organization of African American Cincinnati police officers and other groups are calling on city and police officials to "discipline" the police union leader.

Sgt. Dan Hils has been under criticism for recent comments and actions and now is the subject of an Ohio Civil Rights Commission Equal Employment Opportunity complaint. It was filed last month by an African American lieutenant, Danita Pettis.

"The City of Cincinnati set the tone at the top and address the detrimental actions of FOP President Hils in his attempts to undermine policies of the Collaborative Agreement and bias-free policing with his was in the work place under the guise of union business," reads the statement.

It was jointly released Thursday by the Cincinnati NAACP, Cincinnati Black United Front, city of Cincinnati Office of Human Relations, Greater Cincinnati National Action Network, Sentinels Police Association and Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio, Amos Project and Baptist Ministers Conference of Cincinnati.

The civil rights groups "collectively demand accountability for the rogue actions and divisive rhetoric" of Hils, the statement reads.

Their 11-point resolution includes objections to Hils delaying an investigation into accusations that officers used excessive force against two African-American men in a confrontation last August.

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It also alleges he made derogatory comments about Pettis regarding an arrest of hers 20 years ago, revealing details from records that had been properly sealed and expunged. His comments , it states, violated state law and are a misdemeanor crime because he divulged confidential information while disparaging Pettis.

She was third-shift commander in District 4, which covers Avondale, Bond Hill and other predominantly black neighborhoods.

Pettis was abruptly transferred to a day shift in District 3 on the city's West Side last month after filing complaints against Hils and others over Nov. 26 visit he made to a District 4 roll call.

Pettis alleged that Hils undermined her authority by speaking to the third-shift roll call she supervised when she wasn't there. A witness statement from  another officer said Hils told officers "You already have it tough in an urban ghetto environment."

Hils apologized last month for using the term "urban ghetto."

The groups also say Hils encouraged officers to violate police body camera policy by urging them to record their roll calls; made disparaging comments to the officers at roll call stating 'you already have it tough in an urban ghetto environment,' which further divided officers and was polarizing to many of the dues paying members he is bound by contract to represent; now, therefore be it."

The demand to discipline Hils follows a no-confidence vote in Hils taken last month by the African-American police group, the Sentinels.

"He has violated state law by revealing details of expunged and sealed records. Dan Hils' abuse and misuse of his position is unacceptable," the statement reads.

"We ask that corrective disciplinary action be taken, and that clear policy and protocols be put in place when union officials make visits to the workplace for purposes of representation, and that Dan Hils receive implicit bias training that meets the requirements mutually agreed to by the City of Cincinnati and parties to this resolution."

In response, Hils posted a lengthy rebuttal Thursday on "Support The Blue in Cincy" Facebook page:

"I have been contacted by local media requesting my response to a joint resolution calling for my disciplining.

"The resolution begins with mention of an arrest by two Cincinnati Police Officers and accusing them of excessive force. THIS IS FALSE. The officers in this case used an extreme amount of patience before using force. The Internal Investigation into the use of force is ongoing, but I am confident the officer's use of force will be found to be lawful and reasonable.

"The TRO was to protect the criminal prosecution process of a subject charged with a felony. The offender in the case has pled guilty to assaulting a police officer. The accusation that this was to undermine a review process is FALSE. The interviews have been conducted by CCA and they are completing their investigation.

"The next several accusations involve the incident in District Four, where I was requested to meet officers. Several officers felt they were being bullied. This matter of their treatment and my interaction with them is being investigated by Internal Affairs.

"Due to the ongoing investigation I will not address each allegation specifically. I will not remain completely silent as this resolution, and earlier reporting from the Enquirer appears as an organized attempt to discredit me. I am confident that the investigation will reveal a significant portion of these allegations to be completely FALSE.

"Just yesterday I was in a Collaborative Refresh meeting. I discussed with the panel the FOP's role in helping more clearly define de-escalation for patrol officers. I am currently working with academy staff in planning the training using the techniques of SWAT Crisis negotiations, in which I was CPD's primary trainer for over a decade.

"Chief Isaac has given us the go ahead for this concept. As the leader of the FOP, I am working to improve the working relationship between the officers, the agency and the community. The statement my actions are "rogue" is untrue. The narrative being manufactured that I am divisive is baseless and in itself is facilitating divisiveness in our community."

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