An Ohio Police Chief who reportedly violates department policy may be removed from his position after receiving a unanimous vote of no confidence from the department.
Rocky River Police Department (RRPD) union representatives were scheduled to meet on April 5 to discuss Police Chief George Lichman’s removal, though the meeting was cancelled for unknown reasons, according to one anonymous RRPD officer.
An internal February letter sent to the department discussed frustration with Lichman’s leadership.
“Over the past several months, many patrol officers have come to me with issues concerning the path the department is on with the current leadership,” reads the letter, which was provided to Timcast by the anonymous source. “Persistent, chronic shortfalls are becoming more severe, are never acknowledged, and much less addressed.”
“In my 16 years as a union labor representative, never have I heard more calls for change and acknowledgment of the abject failures of our leadership.”
The letter continues:
There have always been complaints about George Lichman’s condescending demeanor and proclivity to argue, but his impact was relegated to the few people surrounding him. Since becoming Chief, his impact on the larger department as a whole has detrimentally affected the ability of the police department to accomplish its mission. … Some members feel we have crossed the line to a hostile work environment. Others question the safety of the work environment due to staffing, equipping, and vetting of our training.
Lichman’s social media posts have also been called into question as being overtly political in nature, according to RRPD officers. The Police Chief also ran a blog he would post through a Twitter account which he also reportedly alluded to “porn habits” and “cybering,” which is the exchanging of sexual messages or information via the internet, the internal letter claims.
On his personal Instagram account, Lichman also shared an image featuring the Police Chief appearing nude in a window’s reflection, according to RRPD’s letter.
Chief Lichman has allegedly stated “I should probably care more about morale than I do,” according to RRPD officers.
The police chief’s actions have also reportedly violated RRPD Policy 1028 regarding employee speech, expression, and social networking.
With the exception of speaking as a private citizen or acting as an authorized member of a recognized bargaining unit or officer associations on a matter of public concern, RRPD prohibits speech or expression that is:
Made pursuant to an official duty that tends to compromise or damage the mission, function, reputation or professionalism of the [RRPD] or its employees … expression that demonstrates support for criminal activity … participating in sexually explicit photographs or videos for compensation or distribution; speech or expression that is contrary to the canons of the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics as adopted by the Rocky River Police Department.
RRPD employees are also unauthorized to “endorse, support, oppose or contradict any political campaign or initiative, social issue, cause or religion, product, service company or other commercial … video, public broadcast or any website.”
The internal email provided an image allegedly featuring Lichman holding a “Black Lives Matter” sign while appearing to be on a public sidewalk while in uniform.
“When it can be reasonably construed that an employee acting in his/her individual capacity or through an outside group or organization … the employee shall give a specific disclaiming statement that any such speech or expression is not representative of the Rocky River Police Department,” the department’s policy continues.
“Despite claims of using community/police partnerships, community input, and constant transparency, the Chief subverts efforts to gain accurate and direct feedback from residents, visitors, and commuters by restricting online surveys,” the internal letter continues. “Furthermore, this falls well short of policy requirements in our community policing policy which requires annual community surveys to take place. There is no partnership, and RRPD does not want input from the community.”
“We find it impossible to uphold a mission statement of supporting respectful, professional and dependable police services without embodying those characteristics within our own four walls,” the letter continued. “The reputation of our police department has fallen as a direct result of Chief Lichman’s leadership.”
One officer speaking on the condition of anonymity corroborated the content of the letter.
“In the time that Chief George Litchman has been chief of Rocky River Police Department many shortcomings of his leadership have been noticed, not only by myself, but all of the members of the patrol division of this department,” wrote the anonymous officer. “As an employee of his I have seen his lack of leadership abilities in more than one area.”
I have personally experienced … his lack of ability to understand his role as chief. Litchman will constantly talk down to all of us and treat us as though we are children, when we are all capable patrolmen. Chief Litchman has been heard in meetings before, stating that the low morale in the department is not his fault and it should not be something that he has to worry or care about. This is a prime example of a poor leader, and one of the reasons this vote of no confidence took place.
The anonymous officer noted improperly functioning equipment, specifically a lack of radio batteries that creates a safety hazard for officers requesting assistance, due to negligence exhibited under Lichman’s leadership.
After the vote took place, there have been retaliation type activities that have taken place. Chief Litchamn has belittled the supervisors stating it is their fault that we patrolmen have low morale, and has since implemented change that he threatens write ups if they are not enforced. This includes limiting roll call time, limiting time patrolmen are allowed to be together, and setting minimums we must meet that have never been in place before.
“This to me appears to be retaliation for all of us patrolmen sticking together and agreeing he is not the future of our department.”
When Timcast reached out to Lichman for comment, he provided the following statement:
I have served the Rocky River Police Department and this community, where I have chosen to live and raise my family, for over 25 years, the last 2 1/2 years as Chief of Police. During that entire time my commitment to the Department and to the community has been and remains my first priority. I am deeply disappointed by the developments that you have apparently been made aware of, and which I have good reason to believe were orchestrated by one or two patrol officers, in conjunction with certain members of the police union leadership.
I have fully cooperated with the city administration and I will continue to do so. It is my understanding that the union and the members that are behind this smear campaign have refused to meet with the city administration in order to discuss any truly substantive issues that they may have. It is also my understanding that the city has referred the matter to a third party agency for investigation and review of the conduct and/or tactics that are being employed here. Because of that, and because I do not want to do anything that might interfere with the integrity of that process, I will not make any further comment at this time.
Lichman received a vote of “no confidence” with 18 officers unanimously voting against the police chief on Feb. 9.
The union is rescheduling their meeting, though no official date has been announced.