Friday, October 12, 2001

Speaker supports hiring outside city

By Randy Tucker
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Former Cincinnati City Manager Sylvester Murray, who spent four months this year as an adviser to the mayor's race relations committee, said Thursday that Cincinnati needs “an executive in charge of its police department, not a civil service bureaucrat.”

        Mr. Murray, the keynote speaker at a community issues forum at Christ Church Cathedral downtown, said the police department is lacking a leader who instills the kind of “values and behavior patterns” that would lead to better police-community relations.

        Instead, he said, the department is run by senior managers who are basically unaccountable to the communities they serve because of the civil service protection they enjoy.

        Mr. Murray — who began his $1,400-a-day job as adviser to the mayor's race relations panel in early May and has returned to his teaching job at Cleveland State University — said he supports a council-endorsed charter amendment that would let the city manager hire police and fire chiefs from a national search.

        "Too many people say the police are unfriendly, undisciplined,” he said. "Cincinnati needs someone who can change the value system (of the police force), and tell them what behavior is appropriate and what's not.”

        Mr. Murray said he based his assessment on the insights he gained from his recent work in the city.

        He pointed out that Cincinnati is the only major Ohio city that has not created its own home-rule system for hiring, disciplining and firing city workers. Instead it has been governed for 75 years by state rules chiefly formulated with state employees in mind.

        The charter amendment was proposed by council members Pat DeWine and Alicia Reece, with help from the co-chairs of Cincinnati Community Action Now.

        The charter amendment would take the jobs of 98 senior management people in Cincinnati government out of civil service protection and have them serve under the city manager.


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