Tuesday, August 3, 2004

Lemmie to hire 2 for police

Assistant chiefs needed, she insists; union objects

By William A. Weathers
Enquirer staff writer

City Manager Valerie Lemmie announced Monday that she plans an immediate national search to fill two assistant police chief vacancies, despite continued objections from the police union.

"It is appropriate and necessary to secure the leadership staff to help address the number of responsibilities the police department has, including those required by the Collaborative Agreements," she wrote.

With the recent resignation of Lt. Col. Richard Biehl, there are only two assistant chiefs on Cincinnati Police Department's command staff rather than the normal four.

Lemmie said retired federal Judge Nathaniel R. Jones will chair a search committee to help evaluate internal and external candidates.

In 2001 voters approved Issue 5, which allows the city to go outside the department for its chief and assistant chiefs. Previously, they were chosen from within the department.

The Fraternal Order of Police has filed two complaints with the State Employment Relations Board claiming that filling an assistant chief vacancy with someone outside the Cincinnati department violates the collective bargaining agreement it has with the city. The union contends that Capt. Stephen Gregoire and Capt. Michael Cureton - who are Nos. 1 and 2 on the department's promotion list - should be appointed to fill the vacancies.

Sgt. Harry Roberts, FOP president, said Monday that he would consult with the union's lawyer about what, if any, legal action the union should take.

"The city obviously feels like they can violate our contract,'' Roberts said.


Jane Prendergast contributed to this report. E-mail William A. Weathers at bweathers@enquirer.com

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