Wednesday, January 09, 2002

Roach hiring reconsidered


Evendale looks for way to rescind hiring

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        EVENDALE — Two village officials said Tuesday they'll research ways to rescind the hiring of Stephen Roach as a police officer, but they're not promising they'll strip him of the job even if they find a way.

Roach
Roach
        Mayor Doug Lohmeier acknowledged to a group of 20 residents Tuesday night that he and other council members significantly underestimated residents' response to the hiring of the Cincinnati officer, whose fatal shooting of Timothy Thomas in April sparked protests and riots.

        “We did not consider the magnitude of the controversy,” the mayor said. “We said, "Our job is to find the best candidate. Not the second-best, or the third-best, but the best.”

        Officer Roach scored second overall on the written exam and top on the oral interview by Evendale officers. His and four other names were submitted without ranking to council's three-member hiring committee. They recommended him. His $45,500 salary will be a little more than what a starting officer makes in Cincinnati.

        Village Solicitor Christian Schaefer said he has been looking for a legal remedy to appease the concerned residents. But he said he hasn't found one that wouldn't subject the city to a lawsuit.

        The citizens at the meeting, about evenly divided between black and white, urged their leaders to try everything possible to stop Officer Roach from patrolling their streets. Among their ideas: Simply ask him if he still wants to work where many people don't want him.

        There are about 266 African-American residents out of 3,090 total residents in the village, according to the 2000 Census.

        Officer Roach, 27, a four-year veteran of the Cincinnati force, is scheduled to start work in Evendale on Jan. 21. He resigned from Cincinnati on Friday, but still remains an officer there. He is off work, using vacation and compensatory time.

        It is not impossible for him to continue working in Cincinnati. Chief Tom Streicher said officers often resign, then change their minds. He called Officer Roach an exceptional, mature young officer who is very committed to the job.

        But it is not likely that Officer Roach, who has his police powers back but remained assigned to the impound lot since the April 7 shooting, would go back to any high-profile patrol work anytime soon. That's best, the chief said, for both him and the community.

        Officer Roach was acquitted in September on charges of negligent homicide and obstructing official business.

       



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