Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Public Safety Director Stumbles Badly In First Major Decision

Public Safety Director Troy Riggs has been on the job for less than two months, and he's already made a serious blunder in agreeing to name Rick Hite, the interim IMPD chief foisted on the City by his incompetent and egotistical predecessor, Frank Straub, as the City's new police chief. Hite possessed absolutely no qualifications for a high-ranking police officer position when Straub named Hite as interim chief after firing Chief Paul Ciesielski over serious differences with Straub's maniacal and erratic management style. Although Hite worked for the Baltimore Police Department for many years, he lacked formal training required to be a certified police officer in Indiana. Most of his work at the Baltimore Police Department was not related to work as a police officer. He had worked on the security detail of the mayor and later worked on a program intended to stop inner city teens from joining gangs. It was only after Straub had already named Hite as interim chief that it was discovered that he lacked the credentials of a certified law enforcement officer required to hold the position. Before being named to the post, Hite had been working at the the Department of Public Safety in a position newly-created, Deputy Director for Training and Strategic Initiatives, one of a number of new positions created by Straub during his tumultuous tenure. Hite was required to spend months in training and exam-taking to become certified after his initial appointment as interim chief last spring--still requiring a waiver from the more formal training requirements other officers on the force are required to undertake.

News of Hite's announcement comes as a Foxt 59 News report informs us that Ciesielski testified in a recent deposition that he blamed Straub for the demotion of three high-ranking officers in the wake of the Officer David Bisard fatal alcohol-related crash that killed one motorcyclist, Eric Wells, and critically injured two other persons. Straub had ordered Ciesielski to summon Darryl Pierce, John Conley and Ron Hicks, who had just arrived at the scene of the fatal accident, to return back to IMPD headquarters for a meeting to discuss Straub's public image problems. The three former high-ranking officers have filed a lawsuit against the City claiming they were defamed as a consequence of their demotions and public statements made by Straub at the time, which gave the appearance the three had engaged in a cover-up of Bisard's state of intoxication at the time of the accident, a fact that did not become known to them until blood test results came back days later. Straub insisted on scapegoating the three high-ranking officers knowing full well that he had ordered them to drop their work at the investigation scene to return to headquarters for the meeting with him and Ciesielski.

"He was not happy,” Ciesielski said of Straub once he learned of the blood test results. “He was upset and very concerned about how, you know, we were going to handle this in the media.” Ciesielski said in his deposition that he believed Straub wanted the men demoted to bolster his own image. At the time of their demotions, Straub faulted the officers for failing to “report . .  their information up the chain and kept senior officials above them better informed.” Ciesielski said he did not believe Straub's statement to be true. Ciesielski said Straub forced him to send a department-wide e-mail critical of the officers for having "failed in their leadership." In fact, no investigation had been undertaken to determine that the three men had failed in their leadership before Straub made the unilateral decision to demote the officers. By installing Hite to the role of IMPD Chief, the new public safety director is simply perpetuating the negative legacy left behind by Straub. Riggs could have started with a clean slate and hired someone competent to handle the top police post, but he has instead demonstrated poor judgment in entrusting this important job to someone the vast majority of the rank-and-file police officers know is not remotely up to the task of performing.


CircleCityScribe said...

Appointing Hite to the role of IMPD Chief just blew Troy Riggs credibility as the new public safety director. Riggs has just simply perpetuated the negative legacy of mismanagement left behind by Straub.

Gary points out too well that Hite lacks the qualifications to be Chief of the largest police department in Indiana. He has little experience at police work or police management. Hite's career as a boxing coach in Baltimore just doesn't qualify.

Additionally one must question Hites racial bias...he was a member of a race-based organization, the Vangard Justice Society, an organization that campaigns exclusively for the rights of BLACK officers in Balimore.

In Indianapolis, Hite has shown himself unfit to be Chief. Hite wrote a letter on Police Stationary advocating for habitual sex offender Byron Alston. Hite actually on Official Letterhead of Police stated Alston is “a valuable asset in our efforts to rid our city of violent crime.” Alston was in court for a hearing regarding sex crime probation violations that include failing to attend sex offender therapy.

This also leaves questions about the current command staff...which, at least in my North side area, is a failure!!! The commander here is out-of-touch with the community and really has no clue what is going on or what our concerns are....but hold a big event and he'll inject himself and/or come uninvited and then make irrelevant comments.

Mayor Ballard, you have clearly abandoned Public Safety. Giving two downtown fire stations away, removing a ladder truck from a key location at a north side fire station, now appointing this man as a police chief. Mayor Ballard, I have a suggestion, read The Ballard Rules: Small Unit Leadership by Greg Ballard. Then reflect on your failure to adhere to those rules.

Alston was convicted of criminal confinement and being a habitual offender for an incident involving two young women at his northside community center. The women accused him of making unwanted sexual advances.

Court documents indicate that Alston has missed counseling appointments and failed to complete his sex offender counseling assignments.

Mary Roger Bowser said...

Hite is also the one who wrote a letter in support of a child molester.