Tuesday, August 01, 2000

Police criticize safety director

Norwood's Miller called 'unqualified' in no-confidence vote

By Walt Schaefer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NORWOOD — A vote of no confidence in Safety Director Cliff Miller, signed by 42 of the city's 46 police officers, was released Monday.

        Lt. Mike Wheeler, spokesman for the officers, said the group also called for Mayor Joe Hochbein to suspend himself until the 14-count grand jury indictment against him is resolved.

        The indictment charges the mayor with theft in office and falsification. Mr. Hochbein is scheduled to be arraigned Friday in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court.

        The document expressing no confidence in Mr. Miller states he “is unqualified to serve in the position of safety director. His past actions have not created an aura of competency. His dealings with the police division have been neither fair nor reasonable.”

        Lt. Wheeler said he was approached by officers last week and asked to circulate the petition “because I am a member of the command staff. ... Some officers felt there could be retaliation (against them) if they spoke out.”

        Police Chief William Schlie was not asked to sign and declined comment about the vote of no confidence. Two officers who are on probation also were not asked to sign, the lieutenant said. One officer declined to sign.

        Mayor Hochbein, who insists he has no intention of taking a leave or relinquishing office, said he was not surprised about the officers' no-confidence vote in his appointed safety director.

        “We are instituting what is basically fundamental, good management in the Norwood Police Department and some officers don't like it,” the mayor said.

        He said the relationship between police and his administration has been strained because last year he asked for an investigation of a possible cover-up of brutality by police, and he has been investigating “citizen complaints and other matters in volving senior members of the department,” which he declined to discuss in detail.

        Lt. Wheeler said officers are concerned because Mr. Miller has no background in safety department operations, yet issues directives and orders about police operations without consulting the police chief or other administrative officers.

        The lieutenant said the chief has been “harassed” by the safety director to where he is forbidden to conduct a departmental meeting of his men and was ordered to maintain a daily time log accounting for every half hour of his day and after-hours activities.

        The chief confirmed the time sheet order, but said he does not intend to comply with it after consulting with City Law Director Vicki Garry.

        Mr. Miller referred all questions to attorney William Gustavson, who said Mr. Miller has acted within the scope of his legal duties and responsibilities of his position.


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