Boss silences officer critical of police promotions

CLEVELAND (AP) - A black police supervisor was ordered to stop his public criticism of police promotion practices.
The warning was contained in a letter to Lt. Robert Miller and signed by two of his supervisors. It said a department rule prohibits officers from giving media interviews or commenting on police policy or investigations without permission from Chief Ed Lohn.
Miller could receive a verbal warning or more serious discipline if he continues to speak out, the letter said. He declined to comment when contacted by The Plain Dealer.
Safety Director James Draper described the letter as routine enforcement of department policy.
Miller co-founded the African American Supervisors Association in January to bring attention to the limited number of blacks in top supervisory positions.
After officers pass civil service tests for supervisory positions, they are assigned at the discretion of the chief, deputy chiefs or district commanders. No black supervisors head elite units like homicide, narcotics or internal affairs, department records show.
The officers suggested the department establish a policy requiring a certain level of education or experience to be put in charge of such units in Cleveland, which has a black majority population.
Ministers who support the black supervisors staged several protests last month calling on Mayor Jane Campbell to address the issue. The protests stopped when Campbell offered to meet with them.
However, the Rev. E. Theophilus Caviness said Friday that the letter might send the ministers back to the streets.
"When people blow the whistle and you retaliate against them, it just aggravates the situation," Caviness said.
Sgt. Donna Bell, a police spokeswoman, said the letter was meant to alert Miller to the policy and was not disciplinary in nature.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)