Black police group unanimously votes no confidence in Cincinnati FOP President Hils
The Sentinels Police Association, the advocacy organization for black Cincinnati police officers, voted unanimously Thursday evening that it has no confidence in union president Sgt. Dan Hils.
Sentinels President Sgt. Eddie Hawkins said after the meeting and vote that Hils “has failed to equally represent African-American officers within the Cincinnati Police Department in matters ranging from discipline to promotion.”
Fraternal Order of Police President Hils told The Enquirer he was unable to comment on the vote against him “because I’ve become aware that I am the subject of an internal investigation.”
Hils is the subject of an internal equal employment opportunity (EEO) complaint filed by an African-American police lieutenant, Danita Pettis. She is third-shift commander in District 4, which covers Avondale, Bond Hill, Walnut Hills and other predominantly black neighborhoods.
“Sgt. Hils does not value or respect CPD’s African-American officers,” Hawkins said in a statement released after the no-confidence vote. “We pay the same dues to the Fraternal Order of Police as our white counterparts and deserve to be treated equally.”
Hils, who is white, was elected FOP president in December 2015.
“We are unable to trust Sgt. Hils and, thus, the Fraternal Order Police, to represent African-American officers,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins said Pettis’ case is just the latest in a series of complaints he has received about Hils from African-American officers and Sentinels members he represents. The Sentinels has about 230 members, most of whom are African-American.
In her complaint to Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac, Pettis alleged that Hils undermined her authority by speaking to the third-shift roll call she supervises on her night off, Nov. 26. A witness statement was also submitted by Sgt. Dan O’Malley.
According to O’Malley’s statement, Hils said working for Pettis made District 4 officers’ job even more difficult: “You already have it tough policing in an urban ghetto environment.”
After the Cincinnati NAACP chapter and other local civil rights organizations accused Hils of acting with “recklessness,” Hils apologized for the “urban ghetto” comment.
In a Facebook post, Hils said he came to the roll call at District 4 headquarters in response to alleged misconduct by Pettis in the roll call meeting the night before.
Pettis also has filed an EEO complaint with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. The commission has jurisdiction to investigate charges of discrimination in several areas, including employment. The state civil rights investigation freezes the earlier internal investigation, and the state commission’s powers include issuing subpoenas, offering mediation and collecting financial settlements.
In her civil rights complaint to the state, Pettis writes that Hils, whom she describes as a “Caucasian male,” made “nasty, profanity-spewed, racially-negative comments that (have) resulted in national media attention.” She also writes that she is an FOP member in good standing and a police employee since 1999.
“I have been unlawfully discriminated against because of my race and gender,” Pettis writes.
In a YouTube audio recording of the roll call that Pettis ran Nov. 25, she is heard discussing her actions after a shots-fired call from another officer and why she waited to send back-up until it was clearly determined that the officer in the field reported he was shot at.
Pettis also speaks directly to another officer about questioning her authority and chain of command publicly, and asks if that officer was so concerned about the safety of others, why that officer always “seems to be behind a desk.”
The next night, Hils spoke to about 13 officers in Pettis’ command.
Shortly after their respective elections at the end of 2015 and in early 2016 Hils and Hawkins told The Enquirer in a series of interviews that they were determined to work together in unprecedented ways.
Enquirer reporter James Pilcher contributed.
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December 7, 2017 at 10:56PM