Memos reveal why Cincinnati assistant police chief was ousted

Published: Mar. 15, 2018 at 9:02 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 15, 2018 at 1:12 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The second highest-ranking official in the Cincinnati police department had to go because he had a pattern of undermining the police chief's authority, city records released Wednesday show.

Top cop out but taxpayers keep paying in $400K settlement

"It has become necessary to bring to your attention an urgent situation that has become unmanageable involving a member of the senior command staff of the department," Chief Eliot Isaac wrote in a March 5 memo to City Manager Harry Black.

"A clear pattern has emerged regarding (Executive Assistant Police Chief) David Bailey's conduct during my tenure as police chief. His behavior is indicative of a systematic effort to undermine my authority as Chief and create a chaotic atmosphere inside the department. His efforts have been to establish pathways to evade or conceal matters that require my attention or decision-making."

The chief then listed several reasons:

  • "Allowing and approving, without my knowledge, District Two Captain Jeff Butler to restrict a Police Lieutenant to the stationhouse (sic), resulting in an unfavorable arbitration decision that now requires the department to compensate Lieutenants for Field Training Officer pay."
  • "Engaging in conversations with FBI partners and authorizing investigations without my approval or permission."
  • "While assigned oversight of the Emergency Communications Section (EC) refuse to respond and address operational issues, allowing the Section to deteriorate to crisis conditions."
  • "Intentionally undermining the Collaborative Refresh Process by encouraging and undertaking in a confrontational attitude to antagonize the party members and contractors."
  • "Directed the Internal Investigations Section and Inspection Section to undertake investigations without the approval of the Police Chief."
  • "Failing to secure two confidential documents from under his command which were released to the media prior to the review or approval of the Police Chief. The first document was released from the Internal Investigation involving an investigation of an African American Police Lieutenant and the second was the premature release of the Inspections Section Overtime Audit in which he was directly ordered (to) secure by the Police Chief on 2-15-2018."

In conclusion, the chief wrote:

"It is my belief that these recent events rise to the level of insubordination and has created a condition that must be mitigated to insure the effective operation of the Police Department. look forward to discussing a remedy to these issues with you at your earliest convenience."

Three days later, on March 8, the chief sent the city manager the same memo again - except he took out the above sentence and replaced it with this one:

"Therefore I recommend that ...Bailey be separated from service effective immediately."

Isaac signed his initials to both memos.

On the second memo, Black approved the recommendation by signing his full name on a line marked City Manager.

That day, Bailey was "forced out" by the city manager, the police union president has said. Sgt. Dan Hils and the mayor asked the city manager to reconsider.

The mayor wrote in an email the development was "sad" and he wished Bailey and Isaac could work it out.

Bailey signed a settlement agreement March 8 that shows he will receive his full pay, pension and benefits in a deal that will cost taxpayers about $400,000.

Black signed it the next day, making it official.

Bailey will continue to collect $126,245.64 annually with a biannual $10,000 stipend.

Upon his July 5, 2020 retirement date with the Ohio Pension Fund, he'll be allowed to cash out his vacation, sick time and accumulated compensation time. In essence, city taxpayers will pay Bailey not to work until he retires.

So far, Black and Chief Eliott Isaac have not publicly discussed why Bailey is out after 31 years with the department.

They also did not release documentation until the memos were released late Wednesday afternoon, after a City Hall showdown between the city manager and mayor.

Now that the settlement has been reached, Bailey and city officials may not be able to say much.

It states: "The parties agree not to disparage each other. If asked, the City shall state: 'Lt. Col. David Bailey has loyally served the city of Cincinnati with distinction for over 30 years. The city thanks Lt. Col. David Bailey for his service.'"

Reached for comment, Bailey's attorney, Brian Gillan, issued the following statement:

"Dave Bailey was an exemplary police officer for his entire 31 year career. His record and character stands for itself and should amply refute the scurrilous accusations in the Isaac-Black memos.

"If there was a shred of truth to them, then why didn't the Chief and the City Manager just fire Lt. Col. Bailey rather than agree to pay him a settlement valued in excess of $400,000?  We think it is sad that the Chief and the City Manager feel compelled to continue to attempt to smear the good name of a great cop."

Thursday afternoon, Bailey's attorney released a second, lengthier statement responding to allegations in the memo. Read it in its entirety at the end of this story.

We also asked a city spokesman and a police spokesman for comment about the memos from Black and Isaac.

"We respectfully decline this request for an interview with Police Chief Eliot K. Isaac," wrote Sgt. Steve Saunders to FOX19 in an email early Thursday.

FOX19 NOW will update this story when we hear back from the city.

The memos show Isaac brought issues with Bailey to the attention of Black in the first memo the same day District 5 commander Captain Bridget Bardua filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against the police department.

Cincinnati police leaders accused of sexual discrimination, attempt to oust chief

The complaint named Bailey and two other police officials, Assistant Chief Paul Neudigate and Captain Jeff Butler.

Bardua alleges white men in the department are discriminating against her because she's a woman and because she supports "our African-American police of chief."

The next day, on March 6, our media partners at the Cincinnati Enquirer obtained a draft audit of police overtime. FOX19 NOW received it the next day from a city spokesman in response to a public records request we already had in for the document.

The audit raised several concerns including "intentional actions to maximize compensation," bad oversight and confusion about policy.

It found that Bardua received $82,723 in overtime pay and compensatory time last year, more than any other district commander.

The city manager was so upset the audit was leaked, he called for federal prosecutors to investigate.

It "reinforces my ongoing concern related to a rogue element within the Department that seeks to be disruptive and insubordinate relative to Issue 5 and the reality that you have an African American Police Chief and City Manager," Black wrote to Mayor John Cranley and other city leaders. "This rogue element is corrupt. It ultimately may require the intervention of outside law enforcement to ferret out."

Bardua said in her complaint Butler unexpectedly pulled into the driveway of her home at 10:15 p.m. to discuss an audit of District 5 overtime.

He told her he was upset about it, according to the complaint.

Butler told Bardua, according to the complaint, "'You know things are getting bad.' "Butler stated 'He (meaning the police chief) will not survive this. It's either you or him.' Captain Bardua took that to mean that either she or the Chief was getting terminated."

Bardua's discrimination complaint, the release of the draft audit of police overtime and Bailey's ouster all happened last week by Thursday

On Friday, the mayor asked for Black's resignation.

Mayor accuses city manager of 'abusive' 'retaliatory' behavior: 'This is sad'

Bailey's attorney rebuts each point in the chief's memos:

  • Accusation #1: This pertains to a situation involving Lt. Michael Fern. The chief was made aware of this situation through a series of email notifications and via his testimony at the arbitration hearing which again affirmed his involvement.
  • Accusation #2: We are unclear what the Chief is referring to here, since he provides no details, Bailey denies any inappropriate conduct.
  • Accusation #3: We believe the chief is referring to the incident commonly known as "Boxgate", which involved former Council Member (Charlie) Winburn and the suspicious handling of public records. When CPD first learned of the situation, the Chief immediately removed himself from the decision-making process for fear of the potential political issues involved.  Bailey and Neudigate conferred with city staff and at the time, there was concern the boxes might contain records related to the (Metropolitan Sewer District) crisis. Had that been the case, the belief was those documents would be of interest to our federal law enforcement partners. Second, the view was that there existed a potential conflict of interest for members of CPD to examine these documents. The chief was made well aware of these points of view but denied involvement when the incident generated media and political interest.
  • Accusation #4: It is well known throughout (CPD) and the Emergency Communications Section (ECS) that progress was being made on stabilizing the ECS operation under Bailey and Butler. Internal CPD records confirm this fact. Unfortunately, the city manager involved himself and ordered the chief to remove Butler as commander and then remove Bailey as the Bureau commander. It was under Bailey/Butler’s successors that the operation deteriorated into the crisis conditions to which the chief refers in this accusation.
  • Accusation #5:: This is perhaps the most offensive of a long list of very offensive accusations. Undermining the Collaborative Refresh Process is something the chief understands very well, since he continually voices opposition to the mayor's decision to initiate the process. Bailey has been a very public and vocal supporter of the Collaborative and believes it should be the backbone of the CPD’s operation. The specific incident to which the chief refers is a disagreement between Lt. Deborah Bauer and Black United Front (BUF) representative Ms. Iris Roley. However, the chief and the city manager were at the same meeting and would therefore have the same level of involvement and responsibility.
  • Accusation #6: The chief cites an internal investigation which was initiated without his approval. It would appear he is referring to Brian Wheeler. Unfortunately, the chief has the fact pattern wrong. The IIS Commander, Captain Kim Williams, authorized the investigation after Wheeler resigned that Friday afternoon. Bailey found out about the interview when Wheeler felt it was a mistake to resign and Bailey arranged to accept his offer to withdraw the resignation late Friday evening. Additionally, Bailey was the acting police chief at the time and had full authority to make this decision. The chief is upset because the IIS interview revealed hostile working conditions involving the District Five Commander, Captain Bridget Bardua. As the public is now aware, issues involving Captain Bardua somehow seem to merit much more attention and involvement from the chief than those involving other Department employees.
  • Accusation #7: The chief accuse Bailey of leaking sensitive documents to the media. The media who received the documents involved vehemently deny that Bailey was the leak, and there is no evidence to the contrary. Since the leaks are continuing, and Bailey is no longer at CPD, it would certainly appear the chief and the city manager forced out the wrong person and irreparably damaged the reputation of a fine cop. Rather than apologize, they have doubled-down with the release of the memos which are rebutted herein.”

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