A controversial hire by a local police force garnered attention across not only the Buckeye State, but the nation as well.
On October 8, Bellaire Police Chief Dick Flanagan announced the hiring of Timothy Loehmann, the former police officer who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice.
From the beginning of the hiring process, Flanagan said that Loehmann was very up front about his past. During the interview process, he walked in, introduced himself and said, “I’m sure you know my name.”
Chief Flanagan did in fact recognize Loehmann’s name, and continued with the interview.
“Like all of us, when we first get hired, we’re going 800 miles an hour, we want to set the world on fire, gonna save the world, arrest everybody,” he said. “I believe in giving everybody an extra chance. He wasn’t found guilty of anything.”
He noted that Loehmann was fired from the Cleveland P.D. not for the killing of Tamir Rice, but rather for failing to disclose that he failed the test for another police department.
“Was it an oversight on his part that he didn’t report that?” Flanagan asked. “Or was it a typo or something? Cleveland ended up following up on that.”
This hire was met with pushback, and caused members of the community to forge differing opinions. Initially, Chief Flanagan defended the move.
“I don’t thumb my nose at anybody. I have black relatives,” he said. “It’s just unfortunate that a young person lost their life. I know how that feels. I feel for that family, but at some point, you have to pick yourself up and go on.”
Still, many residents were not happy with the hire and disagreed with giving Loehmann a second chance.
“I don’t think [he should get a second chance],” said David Vanscoy, a Bellaire resident. “He might do it again, especially being in a position of power.”
Even Tamir Rice’s own mother, Samaria Rice, spoke out, calling Loehmann “unfit” and saying he didn’t deserve a second chance.
Not all residents were opposed to the move, though. Many felt Chief Flanagan had the chance to look at Loehmann, and that they trusted his judgment.
Ultimately, Loehmann didn’t end up as a Bellaire Police officer. On October 10 at 3 p.m., he called Chief Flanagan, thanked him for the opportunity and withdrew his application.
“He told me, ‘I know you were under a lot of pressure and stress with the rumors and allegations and all the protests and stuff,'” Flanagan related. “And he was genuinely sorry about all that. And I said, ‘Hey, it comes with the job and I’m sure it’s not the first or the last time that there’s some type of controversy that goes on somewhere in this country.'”
Flanagan said that he wished him the best of luck, and that was it.