CLEVELAND (WJW) – The FOX 8 I-Team has found the Cleveland safety director went through training put on by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission just weeks before he made comments that some considered offensive.
We confirmed Karrie Howard went through the Civil Rights Commission training in early December.
That grew out of a complaint filed by a Cleveland Fire Department Assistant Chief, Frank Szabo.
Yet now, weeks later, police unions want Karrie Howard to resign over comments some call racially insensitive.
Frank Szabo said, “I think it’s important that the public see that apparently there’s a pattern here. I hate to say it, but I don’t know if he can continue in his current role.”
Last year records show the Ohio Civil Rights Commission ordered the safety director and others from the city to take part in the training.
That training focused on “Ohio’s equal opportunity laws, with an emphasis on what constitutes retaliation.”
Frank Szabo had filed a complaint over a racial slur made against him by another worker.
But after Szabo kept pushing for justice, the City tried to punish him on a bunch of internal charges which were completely unrelated.
The Civil Rights Commission found evidence of retaliation. The training last year was part of an agreement settling the case.
Szabo added, “My hope was that these things would stop, that the Director of Public Safety would use his vast amount of authority to promote harmony.”
Tuesday morning, we went to the safety director’s boss, Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb. But he brushed past us as he headed to a budget hearing.
The firefighter’s case comes to light with police unions in an uproar.
Many officers and their families are furious over comments Howard made about officers with Irish heritage.
For that, Howard did issue an apology.
Meantime, we waited nearly 5 hours for the mayor to get out of that budget hearing.
When it was over, we approached, but he said, “I’m not going to comment.”
We followed up by asking if he knew about the safety director’s Civil Rights training at the end of last year, but the mayor walked away.
For now, the safety director finds himself under a big spotlight. And an assistant fire chief is revealing the untold story.
Frank Szabo said, “I think the public has a right to know. I think they need to know.”