Cincinnati Police Union Calls for Reinstatement of Black Officer Who Reportedly Used N-word on Duty

The city manager's office says an investigation is just procedure, but Fraternal Order of Police president Dan Hils says it's over the top.

Cincinnati Police Department, District 1 - Photo: Nick Swartsell
Photo: Nick Swartsell
Cincinnati Police Department, District 1

Union leadership for the Cincinnati Police Department is calling on city leaders to immediately reinstate a Black officer who was suspended for using the n-word during an arrest.

Detective Joehonny Reese, who is Black, was working an off-duty detail with one other officer at Energy Nightclub near Paycor Stadium on Sept. 2, according to a Sept. 12 press release from Ryan Stubenrauch of Communications Counsel.

In the release, Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police president Dan Hils says Reese and his fellow officer, who is also Black, were dealing with a highly intoxicated teenager who had been kicked out of the bar by security guards.

“The drunk teenager was physically threatening and berating the bar’s security staff as well as the off-duty officers,” the release reads. “When the officers politely asked the drunk teenager to leave the premises, the teenager continued shouting at the officers, threatening them as well as repeatedly calling them ‘fake n-words.’”

The release says the white teenager attempted to assault the officers, who then tased and arrested the teen for disorderly conduct.

“As the drunk white teenager threatened and demeaned two Black police officers repeatedly with the n-word, […] Detective Reese, used the same word when he told the drunk teenager that he wouldn’t be an n-word,” the release reads.

The officers turned on their body cameras during the incident, according to the release. CityBeat has requested the footage but has not received it as of press time.

“Both officers showed remarkable restraint in the face of repeated racial slurs and gave the drunk teenager numerous chances to leave without being arrested,” the release reads.

A call to reverse the suspension

Cincinnati’s Fraternal Order of Police says Reese was asked to turn in his gun and badge the next week while the department launched its internal investigation into the detective’s use of the n-word during the arrest.

“Police officers shouldn’t use racial slurs,” Hils says in the release. “But it is the absolute height of stupidity to suspend Detective Reese who kept his cool so well in the face of a drunk, white teenager screaming threats and repeatedly calling him and another Black officer the n-word. The circumstance of every incident has to be considered and this idiotic decision from the department must be reversed. Detective Reese must be immediately reinstated immediately.”

Interim police chief Teresa Theetge defends the investigation, saying it’s standard practice for the department.

“As the Chief for the Cincinnati Police Department, it is my duty and responsibility to ensure that every allegation of misconduct by any member of this organization be investigated,” Theetge says in a press release from the city manager’s office. “Regardless of the circumstances, a complete and thorough investigation will be conducted by our Internal Investigations Section (IIS). Under my leadership, it is standard practice to temporarily suspend police powers until an investigation into the use of a racial slur is complete.”

Department's third slur case in recent months

The announcement of Reese’s suspension marks the third known internal investigation into an officer using a slur on the job in 2022.

Two white officers were punished this year for using the n-word on the job. 

In August, city officials fired Rose Valentino, a white officer who was caught on her body camera saying, “Fucking n******s, I fucking hate them!” while inside her cruiser outside Western Hills University High School in April. Officer Kelly Drach, who is also white, was suspended for one week for yelling the "Sand n****r!" on two known occasions in November 2021 while working the desk in CPD’s Real Time Crime Center. Drach's case came to light in August.

Valentino ultimately was fired for her use of the word, while Drach was handed a seven-day suspension.

City leaders began pushing for a zero-tolerance policy on the use of slurs among city employees in August.

"Except when approved by a supervisor, any use of a racial or ethnic remark, slur, epithet, word or gesture requires dismissal on the first violation," the proposed policy change reads.

The zero-tolerance rule for slurs would apply to all city employees, including police officers. The policy change has been discussed by city leadership but has not yet been implemented by the city manager's office.

Newly-appointed city manager Sheryl Long says the disciplinary process that's being applied to Reese is defined in the collective bargaining agreement with the Fraternal Order of Police.

“Every case must go through the same, thorough investigation and critical review in order to avoid undermining the legitimacy of the process. I expect any decision will strictly adhere to the City’s disciplinary procedures,” Long says.

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