Snyder’s final day as police chief, after 33 years with the city department, is today.
In a letter sent to Casteel on Friday, Snyder stressed his decision to retire, which was announced on Dec. 6, was “... made hastily and under significant emotional duress. I apologize for the confusion, but I would respectfully like to continue my service to the City of Cleveland.”
Snyder’s two-paragraph letter of rescission added, “I will accept any noted reprimand in accordance with the current progressive disciplinary processes afforded all City employees.”
Casteel, who was on vacation Friday when Snyder’s letter was forwarded to her via email by city staff, declined to accept the police chief’s request later that evening. Her response came in a one-paragraph letter addressed to Snyder. A copy was made available to the Cleveland Daily Banner.
It reads, “After careful consideration of your request to rescind your retirement from the City of Cleveland as Chief of Police effective January 5, 2014, I believe it is not in the City’s best interest to accept your letter of rescission. Therefore, your retirement will be effective Sunday, January 5th, as you requested and as we agreed.”
In a later statement made to the Banner, Casteel confirmed she had received Snyder’s rescission request and that she had declined it.
“I sent a letter back to Wes and said I thought it was not in the best interest of the city,” Casteel explained.
Snyder could not be reached Saturday for comment at either his cell or home telephone numbers.
The police chief’s announced retirement came only days after surveillance videotapes from Rhodes Climate Controlled Storage, a Cleveland warehouse located at 3305 Old Tasso Road, showed him entering and leaving a storage unit on multiple occasions with a female. The woman was later identified as Sharon Marr, executive director of MainStreet Cleveland. The storage unit was reportedly rented by MainStreet Cleveland through Marr.
The videotapes became part of a police department investigation requested by the warehouse owner who had reported unusual activity at the unit. Further investigation found the unit contained “a few boxes that were in front of the sliding door, and on the other side of the boxes were an area rug with a couple of blankets and pillows, a fold-out chair and a three-drawer plastic container,” according to the department’s incident report.
Snyder later announced his retirement, and Marr has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the results of an internal review and audit by the nonprofit organization’s board of directors.
Neither Casteel nor Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland ever directly cited the incident as the catalyst for Snyder’s retirement decision, and neither denied the incident occurred.
Both Snyder and Marr appeared before the Cleveland City Council on Dec. 10 to offer apologies for their actions. Both received loud rounds of applause from a crowd of supporters who had gathered in the Council’s chambers.
Today is Snyder’s 10th anniversary as Cleveland chief of police.
As city manager, Casteel oversees municipal employees with authorization for hiring and firing. She reports directly to the City Council.
In the meantime, Casteel is taking the first steps toward naming a new police chief. Late last week, and before receiving Snyder’s rescission letter, Casteel told the Banner she plans to meet with interim Chief of Police David Bishop within the next few days.
“We will be discussing his goals for the department,” Casteel said.
The city manager pointed out she plans “to promote from within” and is considering Bishop for the position. The meeting will serve as a time for Casteel to gather more information before making a final decision. Depending on when she can meet with Bishop, Casteel hopes to make a final decision by the end of this week.
Casteel said she is not currently planning to offer the police chief position to anyone else.
In a telephone interview with the Banner, Bishop said he is interested and would “definitely consider” the position if it is offered.
“I believe due to the various positions I have held that I have a good overview of the internal functions of the department,” Bishop said.
Bishop came to the Cleveland Police Department from the Knoxville Police Department in 1984. He has worked undercover in the narcotics division, as a patrol officer and criminal investigation detective. In 2001, he became the lieutenant in the training division.
His title changed again in July 2007, when he became lieutenant of criminal investigations. In July 2008, he was promoted to captain of the operations division. Bishop has 35 years of experience in law enforcement, 29 of which have come as part of the Cleveland Police Department.
Bishop said he feels his diverse experience could benefit the police department if he is selected its new police chief.
Bishop was named to the interim post by Casteel in December following Snyder’s announced retirement. Bishop’s appointment became necessary because Snyder was using accrued vacation time to fill his remaining days as chief.
“It’s been very busy having to do both the chief position and the operations captain [position],” Bishop said.
Patrol and criminal investigations function under the operations department.
“Things are positive and running smoothly,” Bishop advised. “We are on the right road and moving forward.”
Bishop said part of his goals for the department, if offered the chief position, would be to build on past successes to provide a higher level of service to the city’s residents.