Cincinnati FOP president pushes back on "politics" in Plush death investigations; more news

Cincinnati Police union head Dan Hils calls Plush's death tragic, but says it wasn't due to negligence

click to enlarge Fraternal Order of Police headquarters - Nick Swartsell
Nick Swartsell
Fraternal Order of Police headquarters

Hello all! I’m coming to you live from CityBeat’s exclusive staff writer sauna, aka my desk, aka our air conditioner is out. The only thing hotter than this room right now is the news, so let’s get to it.

Cincinnati City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee moved forward on approving a developer for a new concert venue at riverfront development The Banks yesterday — sort of. It seems likely that council will tap the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s entertainment subsidiary MEMI for the job. But it’s still unclear where the venue will be at The Banks, exactly. You can read our story on that here.

• After a unanimous request by Cincinnati City Council and Mayor John Cranley, the city of Cincinnati will hire two independent contractors to investigate the events leading up to the April 10 death of Kyle Plush. The 16-year-old suffocated in his van after calling 911 twice, triggering a firestorm of controversy around the city’s already beleaguered Emergency Communications Center and around response from Cincinnati Police to the calls. Mission Critical Partners LLC will handle an investigation into what may have gone wrong on the call center’s end, while 21st Century Policing LLC will look into how CPD handled the emergency calls from Plush. Together, the two investigations will cost the city $186,000. Both companies are expected to wrap up their inquires and present recommendations by September.

• Meanwhile, the head of the union representing Cincinnati police has criticized what he says is the politicization of Plush’s death. Following a city council committee meeting about the outside investigators yesterday, Fraternal Order of Police President Dan Hils wrote a lengthy Facebook post asserting that the incident was a tragic occurrence, but not due to negligence. CPD has faced questions after revelations that officers responding to Plush’s calls did not leave their cruisers while searching for him. But Hils and CPD Chief Eliot Isaac both say the officers were trying to cover more ground because they didn’t have Plush’s exact location, and that they also believed the call was not an emergency based on information relayed by ECC dispatch.

Last week, acting Cincinnati City Manager Patrick Duhaney announced that CPD’s Jim Gramke, who formerly oversaw the Emergency Call Center, would be moved to another position. Instead, a civilian — city enterprise technology director Jayson Dunn — would lead the call center. That, and the external investigations, have stoked Hils’ frustrations, he says.

“The politically incorrect truth is that there is no ‘bad guy’ and no great coverup,” Hils wrote yesterday. “Kyle died in the most unlikely of accidents imaginable. Kyle’s 911 call for help failed for a multitude of reasons, but without anyone’s abandonment of duty or service to the public.”

• Local Hip Hop-centered nonprofit Elementz has a new home near Findlay Market. The 2,200-square-foot facility, part of a larger, $17 million mixed-use development at 1640 Race St., is the first designed specifically for the group, which focuses on engaging youth through music, dance, media, art and poetry. The space will open June 18.

• Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval got some high-profile support yesterday from a fellow Democrat for his campaign to unseat Republican Rep. Steve Chabot. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a progressive favorite in the party, signed a fundraising email for Pureval sent out yesterday. In that email, the Massachusetts senator praised Pureval's pledge not to take money from corporate PACs and his commitment to middle class families.

“Aftab is a first-generation American, the son of immigrants who settled in Southwest Ohio to give his family a better life,” the missive by Warren, sent via Pureval’s campaign, reads. “And as the first Democratic Hamilton County Clerk of Courts in over a century, he paid all employees a living wage of $15 an hour, offered comprehensive paid family leave, and cut patronage and waste to save taxpayers nearly $1 million.”

The email, another sign that the national Democratic Party is paying close attention to Pureval’s race, comes as the party looks to wrest back control of the House from Republicans. Pureval faces an uphill challenge in unseating Chabot in a district that includes staunchly-conservative Warren County, though election forecasters have tipped the district slightly less in Chabot’s favor in past weeks.

• Ohio will soon begin issuing new driver’s licenses that comply with coming federal security standards. That could mean a longer wait to actually get your cool card with your super-flattering picture and all those trippy holograms. Starting July 2, drivers who get their licenses from license bureaus will need to wait 10 days as their license is completed and mailed to them. In the meantime, they’ll get temporary identification cards. The changes are necessary because current licenses don’t meet federal regulations for airport security that will go into effect in October 2020.

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