Streicher Goes Ballistic in Newsroom

Cincinnati Police Chief Thomas Streicher Jr. doesn’t react well to criticism and believes the media unfairly depict his department to the public. Late last week Cincinnati Enquirer staffers got a first-hand look at Streicher’s notorious temper when he made a surprise visit to their newsroom.

After The Enquirer printed two prominent articles last week, Sept. 7 and 8, repeating Streicher’s assertion that Cincinnati is among the safest cities in the nation and reporting on the reactions his comments elicited from local crime victims, Streicher reached his breaking point.

Unannounced and without an appointment, Streicher appeared Friday at the security guard’s desk in the lobby of The Enquirer’s Elm Street offices, demanding an immediate meeting with editors, according to multiple sources. Once granted entry into the newsroom, Streicher angrily vented his frustration to reporters and editors about their allegedly biased coverage. (Never mind that virtually every media outlet in town had a similar take on Streicher’s comments during a Sept. 5 press conference, and that numerous radio and TV reporters recorded his exact remarks.)

Streicher’s arrival came shortly after city officials advised him go to the home of Cincinnati School Board Member Melanie Bates and apologize to her and her family. Bates’ husband, Philip, was shot and killed Aug. 27 while sitting on the front porch of their North Avondale home by an unidentified gunman.

Days later, at a press conference called by the mayor to address crime issues, Streicher spent most of the time asserting that Cincinnati is a safe city and other police chiefs nationwide “laugh” when residents here complain about crime. His remarks — reported by local media — prompted dozens of residents to speak at the next day’s city council meeting about his characterization.

Perhaps building a head of steam while driving back from the Bates’ residence, Streicher decided to visit The Enquirer. After the chief’s noisy entrance, he was ushered to a conference room, discussed his complaints with editors and left.

A telephone call to Enquirer Managing Editor Hollis Towns seeking comment about the incident wasn’t returned.

The chief’s impromptu visit prompted Peter Bronson, The Enquirer’s arch-conservative columnist, to write a Sept. 12 column on the Op-Ed pages which was entitled, “Streicher sets the record straight” on the Web edition. The headline, of course, raises the questions of exactly what was Streicher setting straight, and who didn’t get it straight the first time?

In the column, Bronson wrote, “Accusing Streicher of not caring about crime is like saying President Bush doesn’t care about terrorism or Sheriff Si Leis doesn’t care about a new jail.” A review of comments printed by local newspapers and uttered by irritated residents at a city council meeting, however, doesn’t reveal anyone accusing Streicher of not caring — just being oblivious to the problem’s extent or insensitive to victims.

More tellingly, Bronson also wrote about the chief, “His timing was terrible. Saying Cincinnati is safe just before council heard from the widow and children of homicide victim Phil Bates was one of those political Freudian slips that confirm our worst fears that our leaders just don’t get it.”

Rest assured, Bronson informed readers, Streicher gets it. The fault lies not with the chief, the scribe added, but with virtually everyone else from Mayor Mark Mallory and city council to an unnamed horde “who have stubbornly denied for five years that Cincinnati has a crime problem.”

A quick review of news accounts doesn’t reveal anyone making that claim, just some people questioning whether police are fully engaged in their jobs after a steep decline in arrests in 2001 and 2002, and whether police supervisors were using the most effective approaches to fighting crime. But what’s a little nuance between friends?

Naturally, Bronson didn’t mention the chief’s visit or angry outbursts. In his many years as a columnist, Bronson has rarely questioned any police action and has remained a staunch defender of Streicher and his department, regardless of the specific facts about a situation. Bronson recently wrote a book entitled, Behind The Lines: The Untold Story of the Cincinnati Riots.

Streicher is well known among print reporters for his refusal to take calls from or make appointments with most reporters. One wonders if a reporter showed up at Streicher’s office unannounced and angrily asked questions, if that person would be received as professionally as The Enquirer did with the chief, or if they instead would be arrested.

— Kevin Osborne

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16 Comments on “Streicher Goes Ballistic in Newsroom”

  1. anonymous Says:

    Safe and impoverished.

  2. Boner Says:

    streicher shouldnt take it so personal.maybe he needs a new PR firm.the same one bush and rumsfeld /cheney/boehner are useing .its only a 10 million dollar was good when all they had to worry about some stinkin there all gangstaz.I say,Blame the record industry .

  3. Ballistic is what politicians are buying when they hire police. Streicher is the epitome of a policeman, which helps explain why he’s the chief.
    What politicians need to do and have not done, perhaps having been cowered by police ballistics, is a cost/benefits analysis for police.

    But, once a politician is satisfied police are worth the expense, then they should support police.
    Most of City Clowncil is in a perpetual dither, trying to have it both ways.
    Myself, although I respect police as fellow humans, I’m pretty sure I could completely get by without them. (I’m positive I could get by without Clowncil.)

  4. mike Says:

    Since you can get by without them, don’t bother to dial 911 for help from the police. When someone whips your stupid ass and takes your lunch money, just take of it yourself, toughguy. I seriously doubt that you consider police officers human beings, and it must be nice not having ever lost your temper before. That’s ok toughguy, just keep sitting there on your couch while you sip hot cocoa and make blanket judgements about people you don’t even know. Sleep tight tonight. Those evil, ill-tempered cops are out there protecting your pathetic ass from all of those boogiemen.

    p.s. When was the last time the media said anything positive about the police? Is it ok if the Enquirer shows up at your employer on Monday and then writes a less than flatering piece about how you have no idea how to do your job.

  5. Jack The Lad Says:

    Hey ‘Mike’,

    Why don’t you and your fellow officers get out of your cruisers and preform some preventive policing for a change? All you guys do is respond to radio calls. Take a tip from the NYPD and crack down on the small ‘quality of life’ crimes and the big crimes will take care if themselves.

    You guys are ineffective as evidenced by the record setting number of shootings and murders in this city.

  6. Blue Man Al's Neighbor Says:

    Police shouldn’t be used as a personal militia for the haves or be expected to clean up the mess made the politics who create the problem.

  7. blue Man' Al neighbor Says:

    Cincinnati needs a Police chief who has a little more understanding of society ills instead rather than the petty politics that drive angry people to the streets. Current chief says crime is down. That’s because people quit calling for help.

    Cut the blue some slack. They are brave, courageous, dedicated, but they are also disposable, used by the same politics that creates or ignores the problems.

    Like the poor, the police are also disposable members of our society ills.

  8. cincyrealitycheck Says:

    Simplistic statements, unrealistic comparisons and finger pointing don’t address the issue – they raise tempers and keep the conversation off-focus. All are effective bait-and-switch tactics to avoid addressing the issue.

    That issue? Perception is reality – regardless of statistics (which anyone can spin any way they choose) or what’s happening in “other cities” (violent crime is violent crime regardless of numbers).

    Cops feel unappreciated and citizens don’t feel safe. Now what?

    Nobody in this country is required to be a cop – it’s a job you choose to do and there’s crap that goes along with it. Sure, you get shot at, but what other profession allows you to carry a gun and get your rocks/ovaries off on the adrenaline rush of catching a bank robber? The stakes are high in the job, so is the pedestal you enjoy and from which you fall. Every job sucks in some way, deal with it or change jobs because when your primary responsibility is the safety of other people, there’s no room for an “I don’t feel like it” kind of day.

    That said, people who complain about crime and then do stupid shit like walk alone down a dark alley at night aren’t practicing personal safety or doing what they can to turn the tide. Yes, you ought to be able to sit on your porch or wait at a bus stop and not have to worry about stray bullets. But in this town you obviously can’t, so the only way we’re going to change that is if we, as citizens, ACT.

    By all means complain! But do it in a way that’s going to get some results, not just waste oxygen. Make an appointment to see the Police Chief or your district Captain and find out what in the hell is being done in your neighborhood to reduce crime. Find out what you can do to help. Do you even know your police district? Go to CPD community outreach meetings. Attend a personal safety class at the Police Academy – most are free for cripe sake!

    CPD, announce meetings widely and often – not everyone has internet access (as passive form of communication) or knows where to go to find out about this stuff, so actively communicate. The police/citizen partnership can work when cops are willing to see citizens as partners (not potential victims needing protection) and both sides quit their bitching long enough to talk to each other.

    Here’s the thing to remember – how would you want to be treated if you were in the other person’s position?

    Recognize that there probably a legitimate issue behind all the bellyaching and be adult enough to say, “That sounds like it really sucks, but I see things differently. Can we talk about this?” Sound simplistic? No, it’s simple but it takes desire, effort and commitment.

  9. The vault of Heaven has opened and the deep voice of cincyrealitycheck has boomed through, taking pity on us hoi polloi by offering “a way out.”
    But, before this particular hoi will cross where the Red Sea was, I’d like to see an admission that police are not our saviors.
    So long as police remain intent on enforcing vice laws, they will remain part–a big part–of the problem.
    Police, especially top brass, should ridicule vice laws, just as top brass in the US military should ridicule the war on terror.
    As a society, we have a system to perpetuate problems rather than solve them.

  10. mike Says:

    Once again, everyone wants to have it both ways. “Don’t get out of your cars and harass people.” “Stop pulling us over, asking what we are up to and writing us tickets.” “Why are you ticketing me for jaywalking, open container of alcohol, loitering, etc. when you should be out there catching rapists and murderers.” “You racist pigs are only cracking down on crime downtown because it gives you an excuse to mess with minorities.” “Cops are too aggressive and need to lighten up.” ……..or it’s…….. “Why don’t you get off of your asses and do something (jack the lad).” Of course, you want something done, but you want cops to guarentee that nobody will get hurt or offended. Oh, and we don’t want cops all over the place, because then it would feel like we were in a “police state” and “the man” would be bringing us down.
    It’s also interesting that everyone is so entertained when the media bashes the police, which is most often the case, but everyone gets completely bent when a police chief dares to stick up for himself and his department. You are absolutely outraged that this cop (robot) would dare act like a person that has emotions and gets frustrated.
    The gentleman that got shot on his porch certainly seemed like a good man, and make no mistake, the person that shot him is pure evil and will pay one way or another. However, it has been said, and is a fact, that the majority of the shootings that the police deal with downtown do not involve completely innocent people standing on their front porch. More often than not, those shootings are the result of drug deals or “beefs” over drug deals gone bad. That is not to say that the person buying drugs deserves a death sentence, but , “If you play with fire…….”
    Cincyrealitycheck, the cops want to help. They are not perfect, but trust me, they want to be heroes, and they will sacrifice their lives if called upon. Many have and many more will. You are right though, citizens have to get involved and they have to help. Stepping up and being a witness in many of those cases is what the police lack to solve some of their homocides. End of rant, and thanks for listening.

    -very few cops……… very MANY bad guys-
    p.s. I do not work for Cincinnati PD

  11. Mike,

    Regardless of the side issues raised by the people posting comments here, you obviously missed the main points of my blog entry. Let me make them clearer.

    1.) If any other city employee or anyone in the private sector acted in the manner that Streicher did, they would at the very least be reprimanded, and most in the private sector would, I think, be fired. I know my employers past and present would never accept such behavior on my part. Everyone — cops, perps and average citizens — should be held to the same standards. They aren’t, and that is at the root of many problems.

    2.) This isn’t the first time that Streicher has acted unprofessional and tempramental in his duties. Just ask the local FBI office. Or ask the sheriff’s office. Or ask the Over-the-Rhine Citizens on Patrol. Or ask Saul Green’s monitoring team.

    I didn’t include many details from the chief’s visit to The Enquirer newsroom that might embarrass him further, because they weren’t directly relevant. But you should know that several people he spoke to there who are Streicher supporters now question his credibility because they caught him telling multiple lies. That, too, isn’t the first time he has misrepresented facts.

    By the way, “Mike,” your use of the term “tough guy” is perjorative and juvenile. Do you take debating cues from Streicher?

    Thanks for reading.

  12. Sid Says:

    Has the Cincinnati Police Dept. ever been audited? Council is besides itself praising the police, but can we actually quantify they make wise use of public dollars (1/3 of the city’s budget), and deploy their cops and use technology in the most innovative ways?

  13. cincyrealitycheck Says:

    How about this?

    Let’s leave the either/or perspective and deal with reality, which is nothing but shades of gray. Choosing to be on one side or the other means avoiding huge parts of any situation, issues, person, etc. It’s a self-serving technique that keeps emotions inflamed and the issues on the sidelines.

    No, ALL cops aren’t “the scum of the earth” and incompetent.
    No, ALL criminals aren’t black and out to rape/murder whites.

    As Kevin points out, when you hold different people to different standards you end up with the situation we have with the CPD:

    * Disgruntled employees (read: defensive attitudes, drop in arrest rates, etc.) who point the finger at everyone but themselves for their poor performance

    * A police chief who behaves like a spoiled brat instead of a professional expressing sincere concern about addressing the legitimate concerns raised by reasonable citizens – which is his job, by the way

    * People in leadership positions (read: mayor, council members, police leadership) who are unwilling to rock the boat or find creative ways to deal with all of the above

    This kind of crap goes on in Cincinnati because we whine and carry on about people hating cops and cops being victimized by the public. If I told my boss I was doing a shitty job because he didn’t support me and others were giving me bad press I’d be laughed out of his office! If I were serious, I’d be put on probation or fired.

    Or am I missing something here?

  14. Jack The Lad Says:


    There is no denying that the CPD went on a slow down after the riots. This lead directly to the rise in violence on the streets. which your force has been unable to suppress. You just are not effective out on the streets when it comes to preventative policing. Si and his force are much more effective at preventive policing.

    When I last saw Si on the 4th of July at a mutual friends house he directly told me that the CPD needs new, outside leadership. He also said that there is a very bad trend of experienced senior officers leaving the force. Many of these experienced, street smart officers are taking full retirement at the 20 year mark, making them only about 42-45 years old, and then taking higher paying jobs with suburban police departments, where the work load is light and less dangerous, and earning a higher salary and a generous pension simultaneously.

    Let me tell you want the vast majority of the citizens want from the force; We want you to get the guns off of the streets, we want you to get the baggy panted thugs off of the streets, we want zero tolerance truancy and curfew enforcement and we want the dealers off of the streets. If you can do this while simultaneously treating the citizens with whom you have contact with a modicum of respect you will have the approval of 90% of the city. That’s as good as it gets; the other 10% are the criminals and/or their families.

  15. Jack The Lad,
    “From your lips to Si’s ear… ”

    As you well know, what you want from the “force” will not happen.
    Now, here’s the really bad news: the effort to carry out your wish list, were there such an effort, would increase violence.

    The “force” is not with us. The “force” is not against us. The “force” is us. We are clueless, and force is useless.

  16. Jack The Lad Says:

    You’re clueless Gallagher. Other Cities have proven that they can turn around high crime and murder rates in just such a manner. You should stick to writing grade-school poetry

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