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Federal Probe May Involve Cincinnati's New Chief

CINCINNATI (Rich Jaffe) -- The new Cincinnati Police chief was introduced this afternoon at a city hall news conference.

Jeffrey Blackwell has been with the Columbus police department for 26 years, most recently as an assistant chief.  He'll start his new job as Cincinnati's chief in about two weeks.

Local 12 News reporter Rich Jaffe takes a look at one particular issue the chief may not be able to leave behind in Columbus.

According to the Cincinnati City Manager Chief Blackwell is the best available chief of police for the city of Cincinnati.

However according to our sources in Columbus, numerous Columbus police officers have recently been testifying in front of a federal grand jury about what's alleged to be the criminal misuse and even sale of federal property on loan to the Columbus police department.

The officers were under the supervision of Deputy Chief Jeffrey Blackwell and it's believed that he is also under scrutiny by that same grand jury.

According to Cincinnati's mayor, new Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell has earned a top score in every promotion exam he's ever taken.  He's known for his ability to reach out to young people and minorities.

The city managers search started with 34 candidates then was whittled down to four and finally Jeffrey Blackwell.

Manager Milton Dohoney says " I was struck by the work that he's done with what's referred to as "newcomer" populations...."

Local 12 has learned there's currently a federal investigation into allegations that Columbus police officers violated agreements with the Defense Reutilization Marketing Office which supplied the department with surplus military equipment like Humvees,computers and bullet resistant vests.

Against regulations some of that equipment ended up in private hands some even being sold to scrap yards for profit, allegedly by people working under Deputy Chief Blackwell.

When Rich Jaffe asked Cincinnati's incoming chief about the investigation, he said he isn't worried.

Jaffe asked him "Chief you and at least a couple of other Columbus officers are currently the subject of a federal grand jury investigation into the mis-use of federal property. I'm wondering if you are concerned about that at all?"

He answered..." I heard about that yesterday. I don't believe I'll be under a spot light. I believe I supervised a couple of those people in the course of my duties of supervising approximately 3 or 4 hundred people so,no I'm not concerned about that."

Amidst all the accolades the City Manager also said he too is unconcerned about the federal investigation.

Jaffe asked him, "Were you aware or are you aware of that investigation and I'm told a current sitting grand jury looking into those issues...were you aware of that in your consideration of Chief Blackwell?"

Dohoney answered, "The way I look at that is if there is something tangible as it relates to Chief Blackwell directly that's one thing,but if there are issues or questions regarding people under their supervision that's entirely different." 

Chief Blackwell will be sworn in Monday September 30th at the convention center.

At this point there's no indication when the pentagon's case will wrap up.

Chief Backwell says he's not waiting until the 30th to begin working on Cincinnati problems.

He's already meeting with city council members for community perspective.

One of the big things he'll be trying to do is reduce police operating costs, while maintaining service.



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