SENTINELS BLAST CRAIG AS HE EXITS CINCINNATI; CRAIG RESPONDS
Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig, who leaves Cincinnati June 22 to become Detroit’s top cop, has responded to criticism leveled at him during his last weeks in office by the Sentinels Police Association of Cincinnati, an African American police organization.
Phill Black, president of the Sentinels, last week sent Chief Craig a letter advising him that members during an April meeting the Sentinels passed a “vote of no confidence’’ in regard to Craig’s leadership. Black said the vote was cast by a majority of the Sentinels at a membership meeting.
Black stated Sentinels question the chief's "vision of change" during his nearly two years as Cincinnati’s first Black and first outsider police chief.
"In your short tenure as chief of police, you have failed to ‘level the playing field’ as well as addressing the unfair disciplinary practices within our department.
"You had the opportunity to right a wrong, but you did not and with that, the Sentinel Police Association grants a vote of no confidence on how you handled the in-house actions of the Cincinnati Police Department," Black wrote.
In his response to Black written on June 13, Craig wrote, “Throughout my tenure, I have been fortunate to earn the trust and support of many sworn officers, regardless of race."
"Throughout my tenure, fairness has been paramount to ensuring morale was sustained. It is undisputed that morale of the CPD was high during my tenure, and it was not because of nepotism, unfair discipline, or not promptly addressing allegations of misconduct."
The Sentinels formed in the 1960s to fight for the fair treatment of African American officers and today the organization stands up for all minority officers including women and Hispanics.
The group also sent copies of the letter to Mayor Mark Mallory, City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr., and Cincinnati City Council members.
Black congratulated Craig on becoming the first African American Police Chief and the first from outside the ranks of the Cincinnati Police Depart ment as an accomplishment within itself. He noted the many achievements Craig was able to accomplish and that Craig was welcomed to Cincinnati with open arms by all.
“Although you accomplished your goals of being accepted by the community, the business community, the cosmetic changes of the department and keeping your name on the “Leveling of the Playing Field," which Craig had initially discussed. “In all actuality, you have allowed the Cincinnati Police Department to conduct a business as usual attitude, ‘As Things Changed, Things Remained The Same.’ Unfortunately, the Cincinnati Police Department has been setback 20 years.”
“I reject your notion that the Department has been ‘set back twenty years...,’” Craig countered. “I embrace and understand change, which has been a major part of my agenda and evidenced by the rank and file officers. One ranking staff member …stated that during his 25 years, he experienced changes that are more ‘positive’ during my tenure than any other time during his career. This statement has been echoed by many in the department… Your assertion that there was no change lacks merit and there are many examples to refute your claim.”
Black added that Craig failed to address what he views as unfair disciplinary practices within the department. “You have actually displayed an asymmetrical practice of disciplining African Americans more than non- African Americans. Your action of swift transfers and ‘putting them in their place’ was what you displayed. This has been a long practice of the Cincinnati Police Department in dealing with discipline, and it continued under your watch.”
About the appointment to fill the assistant police chief vacancy, it was decided that both Black and White captains were selected to lead and manage the Bureau of Criminal Investigations without the oversight of an assistant chief, Craig stated in his letter. This gave each the opportunity to manage at the assistant chief level, he added. The selection process in this case comprised a panel of three Blacks and two Whites, he noted. In addition, Craig stated he conducted an exhaustive review of the possible candidates for the position.
“The absence of your leadership was apparent when you made no effort to contact me to discuss your disappointment in the outcome of this process,” Craig wrote Black. “Instead, you decided to initiate a campaign to discredit me and to publically criticize the process without knowing the facts.”
Craig adds that his decisions were not made unilaterally, but were reflective of what was needed and desired, and there was transparency in every aspect of the department’s operations.
Craig noted that he had met routinely with the Sentinels Board to discuss issues or concerns and responded to those concerns and issues immediately. “Your assertion that the disciplinary process was unfair and never addressed is clearly unfounded,” he said.
He faulted Black for not offering recommendations on how his staff could provide opportunities to enrich officers’ careers while Black was a member of the Chief’s Internal Advisory Board.
Black noted that Craig’s appearances along with the “love the inner-city community displayed upon you” were unprecedented for a Cincinnati police chief. “Unfortunately, your acceptance and approval from the community and the direction prominent business leaders wanted to steer you consumed your workings within the police department itself. Your focus seemed to have switched from the overhaul of the Cincinnati Police Department to that of celebrity acceptance from the citizens of Cincinnati. (However) The Sentinel Police Association will continue to fight any injustice bestowed upon its members regardless of race, creed, or color. We will continue to move on to address the unfinished business that you will be leaving behind.”
Craig said he did earn the support of the community, but that support involved placing emphasis on the “outstanding work performed by our police officers.”
Black stated the Sentinels wish Craig well in Detroit. “(But) Remember, you had the opportunity to right a wrong, but you did not and with that, the Sentinel Police Association grants a vote of no confidence on how you handled the inhouse actions of the Cincinnati Police Department,” he concluded.
Craig questions that due to the fact that some of the Sentinels Executive Board members were not aware of Black’s letter, “I question whether it was a majority opinion of your membership that believed I failed in my tenure as the Cincinnati Police Department’s 13th police chief.”
In some parting advice, Craig told Black that his willingness “to be a part of the solution, rather than simply reporting concerns lacking foundation, will go a long way in building positive relationships in reducing workplace concerns.”
"Frankly, I find it interesting that you wait until I prepare to leave this Department …to raise these issues,” Craig wrote Black. “I remain optimistic on the future of CPD based on the many talented men and women who will continue to move this ‘model’ police agency forward.”
(Story courtesy of The Cincinnati Herald)
What is this tomfoolery here?!? Why would the black sentinels association president wait until police chief James Craig (forever know on this site as "Hollywood Craig") is out the door before making his concerns and disappointments known to the general public? That doesn't even make a lick of sense.
If the head of the black police association had something to say they should have said it long before "Hollywood Craig" was offered and accepted his position as police chief of Detroit, wouldn't you think?
Oh well! That's backward Sinsinnati for ya'!