Columbus Police Department

Articles written exclusively by one member of our staff are notated accordingly. Articles in which more than one person contributed are marked as The Real Story Staff Report, while ones taken from press releases provided to us are referred to as Special to the Real Story.

Editor’s Note: The following is a press release that was distributed by Police Chief Selvain McQueen on Sunday, March 4, and which was referenced in the article entitled “The Problem with Sherman”, which appears in this issue.

Raising the Bar

A vital measure of the health of a law enforcement agency is its capacity to learn lessons from previous events, good or bad, and feed these into continuous improvements in service delivery.

There is a great deal of work under way. The Columbus Police Department is looking afresh at the overall structures and objectives. The department has been reorganized and decentralized by moving key personnel to new shifts and locations. I question everybody from patrol officers to the assistant chief about what’s working and what’s not. I show up at police calls, ride along with officers on patrol and make myself easily available to the media. I have met with politicians, business leaders, neighborhood groups and residents, and have drawn upon my contacts across the country to strengthen our department. I have created community forums and am currently working on the concept of a Chiefs advisory board. My office door is open to the public. Surveys are being sent out to determine citizen priorities and expectations, with surprisingly good results. Mystery shoppers have been utilized to ensure that we are providing service in a timely and efficient manner. It is absolutely vital that all this activity achieves a synergy rather than duplicating effort, pulling in different directions or leaving gaps in delivery.

A new sense of purpose is being brought to the Columbus Police Department that will reward excellence. I demand that everyone work hard. The top to the bottom has been reinvigorated.

The bar has been subject to forces of change both internally and externally. We all want to improve public confidence in the Columbus Police Department. If the public wants a higher quality of police officer then there must be an understanding that it comes with a price. Across the nation, the poor quality of recruits has contributed to problems ranging from badly written incident reports to repeated cases of police brutality. Raising the bar means that we must look at an individual’s qualifications, not seniority. The importance of strong and active senior leadership, personal engagement, effective oversight and support cannot be overstated.

If you want to feel secure within your home, properties, and person, assist me in raising the bar by accentuating the positive.

Selvain McQueen

Chief of Police

Originally Published in March 7, 2012 Print Edition


The Saga of the CPD Promotions (or Lack Thereof)

 The Columbus Civil Service Commission meeting of January 19, 2012 left more questions than answers for the officers of the Columbus Police Department. The meeting, marked by confusion, anger and at least one citizen filleting the department, could not have come at a worse time for Chief Selvain McQueen. With crime perceived as being out of control, it was an untimely show of discourse.

Chief McQueen, under an extreme amount of pressure from citizens, the Mayor and City Council, is confronted with a young police force, an overdue need for promotions from within the rank and file, and a perception that crime is as bad as it has ever been. Add a citizen, Leon Speck, ripping the department as incompetent and uneducated, and a civil service commission ill-equipped to handle the situation, and it was a recipe for fireworks.

The officers have a right to be upset. As Officer Wade Beard said, “It feels like a slap in the face,” noting that most of the nearly 20 officers in attendance had supported McQueen as chief, because he was the inside candidate — and now he wants to go outside the department to promote.

The discussion, heated at times, was finally halted when Ward 2 Councilman Charlie Box requested the idea be sent back to the City Council for review. It was a bold move by Councilman Box and the correct one. The situation was getting out of hand, and someone had to take leadership in correcting the situation. Charlie should get credit for that leadership.

In the meantime, Chief McQueen should consider the following:

  • Promote the officers who are already on a legitimate list that was given to the Human Resources Director months ago. No process is perfect, but it was approved by the Civil Service and the City before it was administered. The Mayor even helped choose a few of the individuals who sat on the selection board. As soon as these promotions are made, emotions will simmer.
  • Have a plan on how and when you would hire a person with the same rank into the department. A person who is a captain of a three-man department may not be ready to be a captain at the CPD. A sergeant from a rural, 20-man department may not be ready to be a sergeant in an urban, 70-man organization. There must be some orderly fashion in choosing who or who doesn’t get the privilege of coming to the CPD with rank. This must be done before going back to the Civil Service to have your idea approved.
  • And finally, if you want to get a new head of the Criminal Investigation Division or a new assistant chief, allow for officers inside the department to apply. It was an opportunity that you were afforded and will take the uncertainty out of the process.

Numerous times, Chief McQueen has stated he wants to promote from within. As soon as he does, the uncertainty will settle, and the department can go back to fighting crime.

NOTE: There will be more about this topic in Wednesday’s print edition of The Real Story. It appears that some high-ranking city officials have trouble remembering what they did last summer.

Reader Comments

charles divel Says:

January 29, 2012 at 2:50 pm

The so called Assistant Police Chief already cost the city money by bringing suit for discrimination. Now, he costs more money by accidently shooting an individual in the course of duty. ACCIDENT?? A so-called highly-trained individual shooting an individual by mistake. He wants to be Chief??? He should be relieved of duty.

But, wait – there’s more…

This is going to be a hard article to write.  Rarely do I write in the first person, but today I have to.  It is now apparent that Chief McQueen is NOT going to promote off of the promotion list that he presently has in his hands.  I am not going to say much about the list or the process.  What can I say? It was my list and I stand by it.

I will always believe that the officers of the CPD are some of the finest I have ever worked with in the 27 years of my law enforcement career.  Chief McQueen has told me on numerous occasions that he was going to promote from the existing list. I am not sure why he has changed his mind.

The men and women of the CPD stood proud last night and should be proud of their efforts.  They should listen to Councilman Mickens and not give up the fight.  Many of the officers made great points about the department and should be commended for their courage to stand up for their beliefs.

Many officers have championed Chief McQueen’s cause and wanted him to be Chief.  After this shift of gears by McQueen, only time will tell what is going to happen.  His officers have been his greatest supporters.  I will let others write the blow-by-blow descriptions of what happened Tuesday night, but I think this change of direction McQueen has made will have a far-reaching impact on the CPD and the community.  As Kabir asked, last night, when discussing board appointments, “Why are we changing the rules midstream?”  I am sure a lot of officers are asking the same question now.

With this promotions process obviously stopped, and the Joe Johnson case settled, I no longer have any unfinished business at CPD.  In a way, it is a relief. It will be easier for me to write about the CPD, now.  From this moment forward, I can cover it like any other city agency.  And, unless someone says something fictitious about me and my time as Chief, that part of my life is closed.

Some may be disappointed that I am not going to give a fight-on-fight description of Tuesday’s meeting.  It is the best thing for me to do, and I’ll pick up the coverage of what is occurring at Thursday’s Civil Service meeting.  At that time, I am no longer involved in the process.

I am now free to tell the good, the bad and the ugly.  Only time will tell what will happen.  But, if last night was any indication, Chief McQueen lost many of his most loyal supporters… his officers.

And, that cannot be good for our community.


Note:  The next three months on the CPD could be a make or break time…we will see what happens!

Readers Comment

shelby buckley Says:

February 9, 2012 at 6:36 am e

No surprise to me; I mean it was ok for them to change the qualifications so he could be our new Chief, so does anything he and the Mayor do now surprise anyone? I am sure they already have people in mind for the jobs. Columbus is in for a lot more problems then i can imagine. i really feel bad for the officers who have some many years already invested in the department, and I know how hard it must be to keep a good morale and continue to work there.


Just when you thought that it couldn’t get any worse…

By now, I am sure, everyone knows that the Civil Service Commission has passed Chief McQueen’s new promotions plan for the Columbus Police Department, two-to-one. What you may not know is, and what the Civil Service Commission failed to address, that there is no real plan. Stop me if you have heard this before, but, once again, a City agency has “no plan.”

However, with that said, what is more disturbing is that McQueen “killed” the promotions list that already existed. If Chief McQueen had done this as soon as he was promoted, that was his prerogative. Unfortunately for McQueen, the police officers and the city, McQueen had told everyone repeatedly, including The Real Story, that he was going to promote off of the current promotions list as soon as he could. And, now he has made a complete 180 in his comments, and he is not going to promote anyone from the list.

At this point, both the quality of the list and the process are moot. The only thing that really matters is that McQueen has misled everyone in the process. At Thursday’s Civil Service meeting, confusion reigned again, as all three Civil Service Commission Members – Chairman Al Hatcher, Glenn Jefferson and General (Ret.) Thomas Moore – once again looked like people stuck in an uncomfortable situation.

Immediately, when challenged about the process, McQueen always wants to go into “Executive Session.” He always says that his concerns are about the process and not the people, but that doesn’t hold water. So, here is a hint: if you are going into “Executive Session” it is about people not the process. If not, you are in violation of the LAW.

Much credit goes out to WCBI’s Steve Rodgers, who called the Civil Service Commission out on their confusion about this issue and about going into executive session without a reason. He also stood up to General Moore, whose only response to Mr. Rogers’ concern was the comment, “Life is hard.”

And, he is correct. Life is especially hard when you don’t know the rules of your own Commission, and a television reporter has to call the City Attorney to come to the meeting to set the rules straight. Yes, that is correct, boy and girls; Steve Rogers was the only person who had enough sense or desire to call the City Attorney, Jeff Turnage, to correct the problem.

But don’t worry, when Charlie Box requested, on Tuesday, to give all City board members training, it was met with a three-to-three tie. And guess what? Mayor Smith voted against the training, saying the boards can train themselves.

And, after a faux pas like that, he wonders why Harry Sanders makes fun of him and the City and everyone laughs. This is the bizarreness that happens in the City of Columbus every day and no one says a word, until now. The members of all Council-appointed boards must be trained!

After he returned from the closed session, it was revealed that it was a personnel issue. And, it always had been. There is a person(s) who McQueen doesn’t want to promote. That is his business, but don’t hide behind the fabricated fact that not enough people passed the test (They all did, since there was no pass or fail.) or some people have been suspended and there is no promotional restitution attached. Just stand up like a leader and say it. Don’t hide behind the concept that you don’t like the process. The truth is, McQueen doesn’t like certain people on the promotions list and he doesn’t want to promote them. Period.

The rules he wants are vague, at best, and dangerous, at worst. It may sound great to say that everyone needs to pass the test with a 70 to be promoted, but everyone better understand that if the three worst officers are the only ones who pass the test, they get PROMOTED!!!!!! That’s right, campers, by using the antiquated 1970′s concept of testing, the three sorriest officers on the department could be the only ones who can be promoted. Talk about no flexibility for the Chief.

As I have written, before, there is no plan about lateral transfers. No understanding of whom and how they would be qualified to work for the City. A Major on a five-man police department in a rural county has no business holding rank in an urban city with over 70 police officers on the payroll. The lack of a plan is what has every officer upset. And, saying that present personnel have top priority is as cheap as the paper it is written on. The officers have no Civil Service protection from the Chief. All he has to say is that the other person is more qualified. Without strict guidelines, the Chief is free to rule as he likes.

In the end, the Civil Service Commission voted, two-to-one, to give Chief McQueen’s plan (?) the green light, with only Hatcher voting no. That was a tragedy, because the good officers who did nothing wrong received the “screw job.” They paid for the perceived sins of others.

But, in the final analysis, all of this is moot. McQueen told the press and his officers that he was going to promote off the present list. He then changed his mind and destroyed every bit of credibility he had with his officers.

Chief McQueen had very little support outside of the CPD to be Chief and with the gross reversal in his comments to his officers, it will be years before he can every get their trust again. He told the media and his officers he was going to promote off the list, then he changed his mind and left the whole department in shock and disillusionment.

And as he stormed out of the meeting, officers chasing behind him angrily, all that could be thought was, “this is going to be the metaphor for the rest of his career.”


NOTE: And, if the CPD doesn’t have enough to worry about: …Judge Nicole Clinkscales pulled the double whammy. Reports have it, that while on the bench Monday, January 30, 2012, Judge Clinkscales found an individual guilty of DUI and as soon as the officers left the courtroom, she reversed the decision and told the individual’s lawyer that she had changed her mind, and now the person was not guilty. Apparently, she had a change of heart after the officers left the area. Word has it that Prosecuting Attorney Tim Hudson was livid, and who can blame him if the allegations are true (and they are). Chief McQueen stated that he was aware of the situation and was looking into the matter. Boys and girls, I can’t make this stuff up. Can anyone say Court Watch? Maybe it’s time we pay close attention to what our judges are doing.—- From The Real Story Print Edition 020812

Readers Comment

terry Says:

February 11, 2012 at 11:12 am

It will be of great interest to see who the Chief promotes and as to their race. The Mayor is digging a large hole that will be hard to escape from. The Chief has no clue as to the repercussions of this act. This will be a bad train wreck. Thanks go out to Mr. Al Hatcher who was the only one to take the right stand on this issue. How are these people picked for the civil service commission? Anyone with half sense can see the direction all this is going. I do not understand why the people do not demand better government and accountability from their elective leaders of this community. If Columbus is to grow, changes have to take place. Soon!

As for the Judge, we all knew what we were getting. Same story as above on the Mayor, Chief and Council. Stop and take a good look at what and who is running the City. Can you not see the direction we are going? This has passed the point. The inmates are running the asylum.

Originally Published in February 22, 2012 Print Edition 


randall robles Says:

February 11, 2012 at 12:32 pm e

What is the promotion test?….Looking at the rank of some officers, it’s apparent PT is not involved.



CRB Says:

February 11, 2012 at 9:33 pm e

This is indeed a disappointing development in this process. Disgruntled employees within the city services, especially the law enforcement function, will only exacerbate the day to day issues that any city faces. In a city such as ours, where the entire government appears to be totally dysfunctional, with the exception of the politicians who seem to have no problems lining their pockets from the various resources that should be directed to the benefit of the citizenry, this could be catastrophic.

These guys work for us!!! Each employee of the city is the direct responsibility of the people who have been elected to the various city offices. The most qualified employees should be the ones leading each division of the city. If that is not the case, then we need to replace those elected officials who are in this for personal power, personal gain, or personal influence.

I have to say that I never believed that I would ever find myself in this place again, that place where racial politics dominates the conversation and influences almost everything else. I grew up in Montgomery, AL – yes the place where MLK preached, where Rosa Parks did not give up her seat, and so many other events took place, including State Representative Alvin Holmes, in his true asinine fashion, climbed his 300+ lb. rear end up on the capitol dome to try to remove one of the flags that flew there. Every issue was made a racial issue, each day in the news, because it was a handy way to create emotional energy by those who wanted more power and influence … and of course more money. They did not want to be leaders or to solve problems, they wanted more for themselves.

I have begun to hear this more and more frequently, here in Columbus, and can say with certainty that the citizenry cannot allow this to continue to build, or else we will certainly have a dysfunctional government and a failing city. If the next election cycle does not bring sweeping changes at all levels of local government, then the only recourse that any dissatisfied citizen will have left is to move away from the city.

If the next election is too long to wait, does the city code include a mechanism for impeachment?

We need competent and “good” people leading and managing the city. I don’t care whether they’re black or white, just that they be of good heart and mind, and have the interest of each and every city resident as the first priority each day they show up at the office.


shelby buckley Says:

February 9, 2012 at 6:36 am e

No surprise to me, I mean it was ok for them to change the qualifications so he could be our new Chief, so does anything he and the Mayor do now surprise anyone. I am sure they already have people in mind for the jobs. Columbus is in for a lot more problems than I can imagine. I really feel bad for the officers who have so many years already invested in the department, and I know how hard it must be to keep a good morale and continue to work there.




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