Thursday, June 24, 1999

Norwood has a new police boss


Sergeant is acting chief

BY WALT SCHAEFER
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NORWOOD — Sgt. John Murphy, a 26-year veteran of the city's police department, replaced Capt. Tom Williams as acting chief of the 47-member contingent Wednesday.

        Mayor Joe Hochbein, who made the appointment, said he decided to open up the acting chief's position to all interested applicants ranking sergeant or higher because it will be a long-term appointment. Capt. Williams and Sgt. Murphy applied. The three lieutenants on active duty did not.

        “I based my decision on the need to provide the police de partment with strong administrative leadership at a vital time, with a new police facility under construction next year,” Mr. Hochbein said.

        “Capt. Williams has a distinguished career with this police department and has been an outstanding street cop and investigator. He will return to lead our successful drug investigation unit, which he started. He will be second in command of the department,” the mayor said.

        Police Chief Timothy Brown is on an extended suspension without pay and faces a July 26 court appearance on

        three counts of tampering with evidence and two counts of tampering with records. He is accused of filing a false police report to cover up his role in a Dec. 5, 1998 accident involving his new Jeep Cherokee.

        Prosecutors have said Chief Brown filed a phony report shortly after he crashed the Jeep into a utility pole on Indian Mound Avenue in Pleasant Ridge. He was indicted by a Hamilton County grand jury.

        The new acting chief has been the city's community service officer and has experience with community- oriented police programs the department has adopted and will expand.

        The department will move into new quarters in the former PNC Bank branch office on Montgomery Road across Maple Avenue from City Hall next year. Acting Chief Murphy, 50, will help organize the move, the mayor said.

        “Our whole situation is difficult ... and strained” because of the chief's situation, acting Chief Murphy said. “It is being dealt with as best it can be. “(Capt. Williams) is a police tactician, and I need his experience and knowledge. He will do that work as I do the administrative end of things. We will be a team,” acting Chief Murphy said.

        Capt. Williams, 57, could not be reached for comment. He served as acting police chief for eight months until the appointment of Chief Brown in March 1996.

        Acting Chief Murphy likely will have the job for an extended period. The charges against Chief Brown must be disposed of before the chief's position will be filled.

        If vindicated of the charges, Chief Brown will be able to return to duty. If he is convicted, and cannot return, a civil service exam would be given. It is unlikely, although possible, that Acting Chief Murphy, officially a sergeant, would be eligible to become chief.

        Norwood Civil Service Commission Administrator Bernie Naegele said at least two candidates for a chief's opening must take the test because it must be competitive. Eligibility would begin at the captain rank. Capt. Williams is the only officer holding that rank. Therefore, the four lieutenants would be eligible. If only one officer from those two ranks applied to take the test, sergeants would become eligible, he said.

       



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