CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A Cincinnati police officer is asking the police union president to intervene in what he describes as a ‘retaliatory culture’ emerging in the Cincinnati Police Department “that only promises to unleash angry commanders on anyone not deemed to be in their respective camps.”
This comes amid a chaotic turn of events within the top ranks of the Cincinnati Police Department in the past several months that includes three separate lawsuits from three current officers and a former one alleging retaliation.
As a result of allegations in one of the lawsuits, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters in April asked State Auditor Dave Yost’s office to review claims of “felony theft” in police overtime.
And more recently, FOP President Sgt. Dan Hils, asked the city’s top administrator to look into what he called “mismanagement” of the police department’s internal review and discipline process on use of force cases.
Police Chief Eliot Isaac has final say on all cases.
The latest controversy revolves around a high-ranking female commander, an officer who has been assigned to a covert investigation unit for the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office and a parking spot.
Jason Hubbard reached out to Hils for assistance Tuesday after Hubbard claims he inadvertently raised Captain Bridget Bardua’s ire and was transferred out of a preferred assignment in the Regional Enforcement Narcotics Unit (RENU).
Hubbard says it happened because he accidentally parked in the captain’s spot, which was not marked, according to a letter he wrote Hils Tuesday that FOX19 NOW obtained.
We have reached out to Cincinnati police for comment and will update this story once we hear back.
Hils said: “I am concerned for this officer’s future with his personal feelings being expressed in public. It’s something I’ll obviously attempt to discuss with the chief."
As for his own letter outlining of concerns, to Acting City Manager Patrick Duhaney over police discipline, Hils said Wednesday morning he anticipated to meet with the police chief about it in the “very near future.”
He declined to elaborate.
Hubbard delivered his letter for Hils at the FOP Hall on Tuesday.
“I just wanted to take the time to share what I believe is becoming a growing concern among the rank and file of the Cincinnati Police Department," Hubbard’s letter states.
“Last week, many around the Department listened as you voiced concerns about indecisive and ineffective leadership at the highest levels of the agency. As I read, you echoed those sentiments in correspondence to the City Manager and elected officials asking them to intervene in unfair labor and disciplinary practices.
"Many in the rank and file only wish that was the extent of the dysfunction.
"The rifts caused at the top tiers of the agency has done little more than drive a wedge in the Department, in which a retaliatory culture is emerging that only promises to unleash angry commanders on anyone not deemed to be in their respective camps.”
Hubbard’s letter goes on to allege he was recently transferred from RENU after a Sept. 7 run-in with Bardua outside the Criminal Investigation Section in Queengate.
He stopped by the Linn Street building to drop off paperwork to the Narcotics Unit, according to his letter.
"I parked in an unmarked parking space in the garage and proceeded into the building. Once I got inside, one of Captain Bardua’s assistants informed me I was in ‘big trouble’ because I violated Captain Bardua’s ‘pet peeve’ by parking in her personally assigned parking space.
"When I immediately went back outside to move my car to remedy the situation, I found my car was blocked in by Captain Bardua’s unattended Department assigned SUV. After a few minutes, I learned Captain Bardua had no intention of moving her vehicle to let me out.
"Aware of her vindictive reputation, I played along with the silly charade until she finally decided to let me out some twenty minutes later. And only then, she provided me with a threatening and profanity laced tirade which would be inappropriate in any arena, much less a professional police setting.
“As a subordinate, I felt her behavior was unnecessary, juvenile, menacing and yes, I also believe she created an environment of outright hostility. This is clearly not conduct becoming of a command officer, especially one who just months earlier, claimed disparate and unjust treatment citing her rights under a myriad of protected criteria relative to a police overtime investigation."
Deters has asked Yost to look into Cincinnati police overtime spending in light of accusations of officers scamming the system for more pay and Isaac turning a blind eye, particularly when it came to Bardua.
The accusations, outlined in a federal lawsuit filed by Captain Jeff Butler, allege the police chief retaliated against Butler in response to an audit of police overtime that Butler and his staff did and Assistant Police Chief Dave Bailey oversaw that found “illegal” overtime abuse to the extent of “felony theft.”
An "inordinate amount of time centered in District 5, according to the suit, which was under Bardua’s command at the time.
But when Butler raised concerns with the chief and Butler, they fell on deaf ears, his suit states.
"Rather, Chief Isaac went out of his way to protect Capt. Bardua from the consequences of her abuse of the overtime system and her allowing officers in District 5 to abuse the system, the suit alleges. “Chief Isaac did so because of his close, personal relationship with Capt. Bardua. It is well-known within the police department that Chief Isaac and Capt. Bardua are close friends.”
Hubbard’s letter alleges Bardua handled his transfer in a way that appeared to him to be underhanded.
“Captain Bardua informed RENU supervisors her intentions were to pull city officers out of RENU temporarily until operational issues were resolved. Upon reviewing the transfer paperwork, however, this claim was found to be false in that Captain Bardua had already had my permanent transfer signed off on by the Police Chief prior to this initial conversation with the County.”
Hubbard ended his letter by writing that he appreciated the time he was able to work in RENU and looked forward to new career challenges.
“I would appreciate,” he wrote, "anything you could do to put a stop to this type of behavior from those who are supposed to be ‘leaders’ deserving of our respect.”