Cincinnati's new police chief is celebrating the holidays a little early.
Interim Cincinnati Police Department chief Teresa Theetge is the city's newest permanent police chief and the city's first female chief, city officials confirmed to CityBeat on Dec. 14. City manager Sheryl Long selected Theetge after a nationwide search, a series of finalist interviews and several community forums. In Cincinnati, a city manager has the authority to appoint a police chief.
"I have full faith that she is the best person for the job," Long said in a release. "Over the course of more than 30 years, Chief Theetge has been an effective, dedicated public servant. Her hard work has been clear to her superiors, resulting in her earning promotions from patrol officer in 1991 to Interim Chief earlier this year."
"During my time at the City, I have worked closely with Chief Theetge, especially over the last few months. I have seen first-hand her deliberate decision-making, her effectiveness in engaging with our citizens, the depth of her knowledge on cutting-edge policing techniques, and her prioritization of equity and fairness," Long continued. "Throughout the selection process, Chief Theetge demonstrated these qualities and more, providing detailed, thoughtful ideas for the department’s future while also demonstrating a willingness to listen and to learn."
More information about Theetge's installation as chief will be available soon, officials said.
The city conducted a national and local search for the permanent leader after the department’s longtime chief, Eliot Isaac, retired in March. Long announced four finalists on Nov. 18: Theetge, CPD assistant police chief Lisa Davis, former Norfolk (Virginia) Police Department chief Larry Boone and former Los Angeles School Police Department chief Todd Chamberlain.
Dan Hils, president of Cincinnati’s Fraternal Order of Police, leaked to other local media outlets on Dec. 13 that Theetge would be chosen. He previously had told CityBeat that officers in the FOP preferred Davis as the final selection.
Upon being installed as interim chief on Feb. 16, reporters asked Theetge if she might consider trying to make her new role permanent. At the time, Theetge said it was a conversation for later.
"I think one thing law enforcement has taught me over 30 years is you take it one day at a time. My concentration right now will be leading this agency during the interim process and assisting the city manager in any way that I can in the search or whatever may come my way," Theetge said. "But never say never. We'll see what the future holds."
About Teresa TheetgePrior to taking on the interim chief role, Theetge, 60, was the executive assistant chief under Isaac and has been with the CPD for about 32 years. She’s the first woman to lead the department.
During Theetge's time as interim chief, the city approved $250,000 for summer policing to help reduce gun violence, initiated a pilot program that sends mental health professionals instead of police to certain types of 911 calls, dealt with a shooting that rocked and changed the Over-the-Rhine entertainment district and responded to multiple false threats of school violence.
This year, the Cincinnati Police Department also has been dealing with several instances of officers using racist slurs while on the job. The cases of officers Rose Valentino and Kelly Drach particularly caught Cincinnati's attention, leading to city manager Sheryl Long implementing a new policy that terminates the employment of those working for the city who use the N-word or other slurs.
"It doesn't go unnoticed by me or anybody on this call, I'm sure, that the police department specifically has had three instances of racial slurs being used by on-duty officers within the last six months," Theetge said when the policy was announced in October. "There's a lot of things I can defend with [what] an officer does or says, but the use of a racial slur is not one of them."
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