The Wit and Wisdom of Richard Janke

It's no secret that Cincinnati Assistant Police Chief Richard Janke has a way with words. His rhetorical skills first came to our notice in 2001, when CityBeat heard him tell a group of peaceful

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Portland's alternative newsweekly won the Pulitzer Prize this week for its investigation of political bigwig Neil Goldschmidt.



It's no secret that Cincinnati Assistant Police Chief Richard Janke has a way with words. His rhetorical skills first came to our notice in 2001, when CityBeat heard him tell a group of peaceful protesters, "We are prepared to whack you." (See 'Getting' Whacked," issue of June 7-13, 2001.) More recently, Janke's use of language has come to the attention of a federal judge, who admonished city officials for his disrespectful treatment of court-appointed monitors (see "Time to Pay," issue of Feb. 2-8).

The assistant chief's most recent performance came during his April 5 presentation to city council's Internal Audit Committee. Janke defended the police department against an audit of its overtime policies and procedures submitted by Audit Manager Mark Ashworth. To fully appreciate what he had to say, it helps to remember that the limited "sample" audit took a full year thanks in large part to the police department's resistance to requests for information.

Following are excerpts from Janke's statement:

"Our overtime as a percentage of the total budget compares very favorably with other departments in the region. If you measure response time on emergency calls, the department compares very favorably to other cities. Be careful with regional comparison: What does the collective bargaining agreement say in terms of compensation?

It's no secret that Cincinnati Assistant Police Chief Richard Janke has a way with words. His rhetorical skills first came to our notice in 2001, when CityBeat heard him tell a group of peaceful protesters, "We are prepared to whack you." (See 'Getting' Whacked," issue of June 7-13, 2001.) More recently, Janke's use of language has come to the attention of a federal judge, who admonished city officials for his disrespectful treatment of court-appointed monitors (see "Time to Pay," issue of Feb. 2-8).

The assistant chief's most recent performance came during his April 5 presentation to city council's Internal Audit Committee. Janke defended the police department against an audit of its overtime policies and procedures submitted by Audit Manager Mark Ashworth. To fully appreciate what he had to say, it helps to remember that the limited "sample" audit took a full year thanks in large part to the police department's resistance to requests for information.

Following are excerpts from Janke's statement:

"Our overtime as a percentage of the total budget compares very favorably with other departments in the region. If you measure response time on emergency calls, the department compares very favorably to other cities. ... Be careful with regional comparison: What does the collective bargaining agreement say in terms of compensation? ... If we don't know the collective bargaining agreements set the compensation at the same rate or similar rates, even those comparisons break down.

"We were called upon to do an examination of the budget and overtime last year in front of the Law and Public Safety Committee (on a) very short timeline. ... I found an article written in 1998 by the National Institute of Justice. ... This was really the only document I could find that talks about police overtime. ... We compiled this survey again in pretty quick order.

"Fringes should be included because it becomes an issue of the task that needs to be accomplished. It is less costly to pay existing employees overtime than it is to hire new full-time employees. ... Use not only the auditor's report but also our report to get a total picture.

"I don't believe that we ever intimidated any of Mr. Ashworth's staff. We've never been told we did. ... We did disagree with public statements made that we were resisting giving information.

"By anyone's standards, it's a grueling schedule. ... When homicides occur, we can't interrupt that, we can't stop that. ... Does that mean we can't tighten up? No, we're not saying that. ... I don't think anywhere in this audit there's claim that there's overtime abuse.

"This was a long and difficult process for everyone involved. ... In hindsight there were some things we could have done to improve this process.

"Recognize that we're running a police operation during all of this. It was easier to provide a document than set aside two or three hours for interviews. It's a difficult audit."

Proud of What We Do
People who work for alternative weeklies across the country were delighted this week when the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting went to Nigel Jaquiss of Willamette Week in Portland, Ore. His dogged reporting exposed the statutory rape of a 14-year-old girl by former Oregon Gov. Neil Goldschmidt 30 years earlier when he was mayor of Portland.

A story in Portland Monthly Magazine in November 2004 laid out the details of Jaquiss' determined pursuit of the story. The magazine quoted Willamette Week Editor Mark Zusman, who co-owns the alternative newspaper, saying something that applies as well to CityBeat and to many of the alt newsweeklies across the United States.

"Despite the alternative nature of this place, everybody takes what we do here very seriously," Zusman said. "I think everybody at this paper could find something more lucrative and less stressful to do. At some level, we're here because of our love for this city and our belief that the healthy exercise of the First Amendment is in the long term good for the city."



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