Cincinnati Police Union President Says New Chief Selection Process Is a 'Sham'

Fraternal Order of Police president Dan Hils takes issue with a candidate firing a former officer for donating to Kyle Rittenhouse's defense fund.

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click to enlarge Dan Hils, president of Cincinnati's Fraternal Order of Police, says many local officers have a preference for who the city's next police chief should be. - Photo: Madeline Fening
Photo: Madeline Fening
Dan Hils, president of Cincinnati's Fraternal Order of Police, says many local officers have a preference for who the city's next police chief should be.

The leader of Cincinnati’s police union is speaking out about the selection process for the department’s new chief, saying officers have a clear preference for a specific internal candidate.

Dan Hils, president of Cincinnati’s Fraternal Order of Police, released a statement Dec. 2 urging city manager Sheryl Long to select one of the two internal candidates for the department’s top job.

“The FOP strongly urges city leadership to select one of the qualified women finalists who’ve worked alongside those brave officers already and know this city,” Hils said in the release.

The city conducted a national and local search for the permanent leader after the department’s longtime leader, Eliot Isaac, retired in March. Long announced the four finalists on Nov. 18: interim police chief Teresa Theetge, assistant police chief Lisa Davis, Larry Boone and Todd Chamberlain.

Prior to taking on the interim chief role, Theetge was the executive assistant chief under Isaac and has been with the CPD for more than 31 years. She’s the first woman to lead the department. Lisa Davis has served the CPD since 1992.

Hils said officers in the department have a clear preference for Davis over Theetge.

“I’ve had dozens of people approach me wanting, hoping that Col. Davis is promoted to our chief,” Hils told CityBeat.

External candidate concerns

Hils, who is elected to his position as union leader by members of the force, said it’s more than just wanting a home-grown officer to lead the department. He also has concerns about the external candidates.

“There are significant unanswered questions and potential red flags with both out-of-state finalists for the job,” Hils said in his media release.

Chamberlain has experience as the chief of police for the Los Angeles School Police Department and as a commander for the Los Angeles Police Department. Hils takes issue with his transfer history, which shows he was reportedly removed from his command position with the LAPD and transferred to a different division in 2011 amid lawsuits alleging he tolerated racial and sexual harassment by different officers.

Boone is from Norfolk, Virginia, where he was the police chief for the Norfolk Police Department until he retired in April. Hils takes issue with Boone's choice to fire a Norfolk police officer for making a $25 donation to the legal defense fund of Kyle Rittenhouse.

Rittenhouse was charged with homicide, attempted homicide and reckless endangering for
killing two men and wounding a third with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle in 2020 during a tense night of protests over the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by a white Kenosha police officer. Rittenhouse traveled to Kenosha from his home in Illinois to join other armed civilians who were responding in opposition to the protests. He was carrying a weapon investigators said was purchased for him illegally because he was underage. Rittenhouse testified that he acted in self-defense in the shootings and was acquitted of all charges in November 2021.

Media reports indicate the Norfolk officer's donation to Rittenhouse's defense fund was made from the officer's work email address and included the comment, “You did nothing wrong.” The officer was fired by Boone at the recommendation of the city manager.

Hils said the firing “raises questions as to how effective Chief Boone would be in Cincinnati.”

“In the end, Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty, so I don’t need to defend Kyle Rittenhouse, nor do I intend to, but he was found not guilty. So, here was somebody who did want to defend Kyle Rittenhouse and send him 25 bucks, and he got fired? I don’t know how somebody gets fired for that. I don’t care if it’s from a work email, people do private stuff from their work emails constantly,” Hils said. “Look, I think O.J. Simpson was guilty, but if somebody gave $25 to the O.J. Simpson defense fund, I wouldn’t fire them for it.” (In 1995, former NFL player Simpson was acquitted of murdering his former wife and her friend in criminal court but later was found liable for wrongful deaths in a civil trial.)

Two community forums were recently held to allow the public to ask police chief candidates questions about how they would lead the force, but direct questions about personal history were not allowed.

Hils said the hiring process for the new chief is a “sham.”

“This process in a sense is a sham. Interviewing these people and putting them on a stage, these folks are polished people. They’ve been through assessment centers and everything else," Hils said. “Myself, if I was a city manager, I would care more about past records and one-on-one interviews."

Long’s office said a new chief will be announced before the end of the year.

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