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Bad Apples and Bad Attitudes at CPD

By Kevin Osborne · May 6th, 2009 · Porkopolis


Here’s an incident involving the Cincinnati Police Department (CPD) and Tom Streicher that most residents probably haven’t heard about.

Sometime between midnight and 10 a.m. on the day after Valentine’s Day, Streicher fired a shotgun through the front window of Seventh Street News, an adult bookstore, while he was on-duty. Official documents in the case indicate Streicher fired five separate shotgun blasts of deer slugs at the store, shattering four windows and two doors and causing $1,500 in damage.

If you’re unfamiliar with the incident, it might be because it involved Detective Sgt. Thomas H. Streicher Sr., father of the current police chief, and happened in 1971. After an internal investigation, the elder Streicher was temporarily suspended from the department for “failure of good behavior.”

At least the sergeant faced some discipline for his bizarre outburst. In more modern times, incidents of misconduct by high-ranking police supervisors rarely seem to have consequences.

In fact, when a supervisor does face discipline it raises questions about motivation and whether there’s unequal treatment depending on whom Chief Thomas Streicher Jr. likes and whom he doesn’t.

We’ve written before about the latest blow-up in the department, when Streicher last month essentially demoted his longtime No. 2 man, Assistant Police Chief Richard Janke, after Janke allegedly was rude to another assistant chief in a meeting. Streicher also issued a written reprimand and asked for an administrative hearing into the incident.

Interestingly, the police dispute is connected to the March death of 13-year-old Esme Kenney, a Winton Hills girl killed by a convicted sex offender. We’ll get to that shortly.

Streicher said the Janke incident was part of a pattern of insubordinate behavior. But noting that no such incidents have been documented, the police union has filed a grievance against Streicher on Janke’s behalf. If successful, Janke would be restored to his former position.

“In 10 years of working as an assistant police chief under Chief Streicher, Janke has never been served with a written performance review by Chief Streicher,” the grievance states. “Additionally, Janke’s personnel jacket shows that Janke has never been served with disciplinary action and has no negative evaluation supplement log entries.”

This is true: CityBeat examined Janke’s personnel file in summer 2008 after hearing about tension between Janke and the chief. It contained virtually nothing about the 29-year veteran. Peculiar.

Slipshod oversight in the department is nothing new, as the hot-tempered Streicher seems to manage based on personal whim and perceived slights. For the chief to chastise Janke for being rude is like Madonna blasting Britney Spears for wearing skimpy clothes and lip-synching.

There’s the time in fall 2006 when a red-faced Streicher abruptly appeared at The Cincinnati Enquirer’s offices and yelled at editors about their allegedly biased coverage.

He went to the newspaper just after the city manager made him apologize to a North Avondale woman whose husband had been murdered.

The Enquirer
that week had reported the chief’s comments about the incident, callous remarks that offended many residents and prompted a large City Hall protest.

In 2005 a federal judge ruled the CPD had violated the Collaborative Agreement, the settlement of a racial profiling lawsuit that called for numerous police reforms. The ruling came after Streicher blocked access to a court-appointed monitoring team, questioned the credentials of the team’s former police investigators and kicked them out of police headquarters in a snit.

Four years earlier, in 2001, Streicher temporarily withdrew all Cincinnati police from an FBI Violent Crimes Task Force after the FBI investigated why six local SWAT team members fired bean bag ammunition at a reportedly peaceful crowd after Timothy Thomas’ funeral (see “Firing on Children,” issue of April 19, 2001).

Janke’s no angel, either.

In spring 2006 he went to an Over-the-Rhine business and yelled at the owner, who had helped form a Citizens on Patrol unit there. Janke kicked the businessman off the patrol after the man publicly welcomed news that the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office would begin patrolling the neighborhood, a move initially opposed by Streicher and police supervisors.

Back in summer 2001, just as a group began marching from Mount Adams to downtown to protest police brutality, Janke made the following comment to an organizer and within earshot of a reporter: “We’re just here to ensure that all you law-abiding citizens don’t do anything illegal. Because if you were to do something illegal, then we just want to be clear that we are prepared to whack you and take you out if necessary.”

In truth, Streicher’s and Janke’s past antics often seemed to feed off each other.

There are two major problems with this type of misbehavior.

First, no one is above the law — and that especially includes police supervisors. When top brass gets away with misconduct, bad behavior or breaking the rules, it sends a message to rank-and-file officers that such actions are tolerated in the organization; worse, it fosters resentment among cops who have seen those outside of the inner circle sanctioned for similar violations.

Secondly, CPD has more than 1,000 sworn officers and about 300 non-sworn civilian personnel. The vast majority are professional and do their jobs well. When the bad apples act up, it gives the entire department a black eye in some people’s minds.

Streicher probably will retire within two years, and some police sources believe he’s trying to promote his friends in the department so one of them can be chosen as his successor.

The issue that caused the flare-up between Streicher and Janke was the creation of a “sex offender working group” at City Council’s request, after Kenney was abducted while jogging and murdered by Anthony Kirkland almost two months ago. A Westwood group also had complained about eight registered sex offenders living in a single apartment building in their neighborhood.

During a meeting of the police working group, the union grievance states, Assistant Police Chief Vince Demasi had asserted that the county Sheriff’s Office is responsible for tracking sex offenders. He added that Cincinnati Police didn’t have the time or resources to get involved.

Here’s what the union complaint states: “(Assistant Chief) Demasi said that citizens should be told that most sex offenders victimize only people they know. (Assistant Chief) Demasi said, therefore, citizen fears are not realistic and citizens should be provided with accurate information. Regarding City Council expectations, (Assistant Chief) Demasi said that he does not ‘kowtow to politicians.’

“Janke asked (Assistant Chief) Demasi if he ‘kowtowed’ to community members who requested and expected service. The … exchange ended.”

Streicher said nothing at the meeting about the exchange or in two subsequent encounters with Janke. Two days later, though, he reprimanded Janke after first publicly releasing a memo about his punishment.

There are plenty of examples about arrogant and cocky behavior among CPD’s top brass, and all the in-fighting certainly doesn’t enhance its service to the public.

It’s spring now, and maybe it’s time the mayor and city manager do a little house cleaning in the ranks — starting at the top.

Porkopolis TIP LINES: 513-665-4700 (ext. 147) or pork@citybeat.com



05.07.2009 at 09:54 Reply
what the hell is your problem city beat??? why all the CPD bashing all the time? obviously you don't have all the facts and nor do you ever. just don't understand all the hate towards the chief and the department.


05.07.2009 at 07:14 Reply
Whatever happened to "to protect and serve"? The CPD is so embroiled in internal struggles, I don't know where or how they find time to actually do their jobs. Streicher is an insane, power-hungry lout, and both he AND Mallory should be in the booby hatch, not City Hall.


07.05.2009 at 04:06 Reply
A very good article. I see the facts given as fact that are not obviously ones that result from biased interpretations. Most of the incidents brought back memories when I first heard of them, but were soon forgotten, seemingly, by the media and the city's elected representatives.


05.03.2011 at 02:01 Reply
Streicher recently received a national award in Seattle for all these "changes". The recent shooting by police in Northside of David "Bones" Hebert shows that not enough has changed. Failure to communicate with the citizens of this community in a meaninful way creates the feeling that a coverup was taking place. I attended a NCC meeting where they would not even tell us how many officers were on the scene when this shooting occurred. They simply recite police procedure over and over. It would have been refreshing to simply hear "This is what we know........the rest is under investigation." When the commander of the officers on the scene involved in the shooting, who was himself at the scene most of the day says it still being determined how many officers were present, he is either incompetent or he is being less than forthcoming. My belief is that it was the latter, and this approach is simply wrong.


05.03.2011 at 02:07
We need a true partnership between the citizens of this community and the police. This is very difficult to form if the citizens don't feel they can trust and protect the police who serve them. Most of the CPD officers do a fine job and are fine people. But one cannot ignore the ongoing problems that seem to be institutional. Transparency is an important piece of this. The jockeying for position amongst the brass creates the impression of hidden personal agendas and a focus other than the actual protection and serving of the CPD citizens.


05.04.2011 at 03:00 Reply
These problems are nothing new. According to a CPD officer I know, former CPD member and current Hamilton County Sheriff Department Member Dale Menkhaus did much the same in going after former Chief Larry Whalen's job. According to this individual, Menkhaus used CPD survillence equipment to record Whalen in a liason with another married party,who was and is a judge in Hamilton County. It was used to force Whalen to retire early (claimed it was cause any case tried before this judge to get appealed, re-tried because of potential judicial bias). However, because it was an illegal act, Menkhaus also got bounced out, so no promotion for him. Instead he landed a job with the Hamilton County.