Police Chief Eliot Isaac will retire on March 1


Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac will have his last day on the force on March 1, city officials announced Tuesday.

According to the city manager’s office, Isaac’s last day of work will be before his retirement. This day will be February 18.

“We are extremely grateful for Chief Isaac’s decades of service to the people of Cincinnati,” Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval said in a statement. “As police chief, he has shown compassion and dedication, working daily to keep Cincinnati safe.”

Officials said the search for a new leader will begin immediately.

“Serving the people of Cincinnati, alongside such a dedicated team of officers, has been the privilege of a lifetime,” Isaac said in a statement. “I am grateful beyond words for the opportunity I had.”

The city is already working to select consultants for its national search, and officials said Tuesday that two candidates are under consideration.

Selecting a new chef will involve “extensive community engagement” and Chef Isaac has also agreed to help.

An interim police chief will be named Feb. 18, acting city manager John Curp said.

Isaac replaced Chief Jeffrey Blackwell, who was fired by then City Manager Harry Black. Blackwell later received a settlement of $255,000 from the city.

While Blackwell and the chef before him, James Craig, were hired from outside Cincinnati, Isaac was promoted from within. He joined the Cincinnati police in 1988 and worked in several departments within the force.

In 2004, Isaac was promoted to police captain. He was named deputy chief in 2015, about six months before taking the department’s top spot.

During his tenure, the city experienced two years of historically low gun violence. He also earned a master’s degree from Xavier University since becoming a chef.

Unlike many of his predecessors, he was notoriously silent in the press, but when he spoke publicly he took strong stances on reform.

He publicly acknowledged that Cincinnati Police Department policies had inflicted severe damage on black communities as recently as the 1990s.

Although the department has been criticized for the mass arrests during the 2020 protests and civil unrest, Isaac himself called The death of George Floyd a criminal act and took the time to rehearse it with officers all over town. He also has knelt with the protesters.

In addition to the 2020 protests, Isaac also led the department through massive street protests after the Death of Sam DuBose at the hands of a policeman from the University of Cincinnati. This officer has been tried twice and each instance ended in a mistrial amid some of the biggest protests the city has ever seen.

Also under his watch, 911 and Cincinnati officers came under intense scrutiny after the death of Kyle Plush, a teenager who got stuck in his vehicle and called the police for help. Officers could not locate him but did not get out of their cars.

After the tragedy, Isaac said, “There have been some failures, and we need to do better.” The Plush family later received a $6 million settlement.

During his time as chief, Cincinnati saw his first “active shooter” situation in decades in the Fifth Third Round. The shooter killed three people and injured two others. Cincinnati police responded within minutes, shooting and killing the suspect.

There are rules governing when a police officer must withdraw from the force. Isaac announced last year that those rules placed his retirement in the first quarter of 2022. At the time, Isaac told The Enquirer, “I want to stay forever,” but the law limited how long he could lead the department.


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