y Rev. Donald L. Perryman, Ph.D.
The Truth Contributor
Before being upset with someone, do first some background checks on them. Sometimes, people wounded in other battles may find you a handy scapegoat.
– Bangambiki Habyarimana
There is a rich and informative Biblical ritual where the high priest selected one goat for sacrifice and then symbolically laid the sins of the people upon another before safely releasing the latter to carry the community’s transgressions away into the wilderness.
The released goat was known as the scapegoat and applies today to anyone who is blamed for a bad situation or outcome.
On the other hand, an “escaped” goat is a mishearing of a scapegoat. It refers to someone who, metaphorically, escapes from the confines of their pen and not someone others blame for their mistakes.
Which, then, is former Deputy Safety Director Angel Tucker?
Hired in February 2022 to help address Toledo’s rising gun violence, Tucker was “tapped on the shoulder and told ‘we’re restructuring you out, let’s pick up your stuff,’ and unceremoniously escorted out of One Government Center” last week.
“There is no palace intrigue or behind-the-scenes drama,” according to Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz. “We just decided to move in a different direction. The City of Toledo had never had a Deputy Safety Director before. We tried something new, and it just didn’t work. We’re moving on. No hard feelings. Angel’s a great guy,” the mayor explained.
Yet, ironically, Tucker’s release occurred exactly one week after the Kapszukiewicz administration’s contentious exchange with city council budget hawks led by Katie Moline and George Sarantou over the 2023 budget’s structural deficit. Of chief concern to the Moline wing is a budget top-heavy in administration salaries.
Is there more here than meets the eye?
Kapszukiewicz denies that Tucker’s release has anything to do with the budget debate and assured me that city council would approve the entire budget amount. However, other sources confirmed that the mayor said in a meeting, “look, I’m willing to throw some people overboard to trim this budget a little bit if you guys pass it.” According to sources, the mayor included Angel Tucker’s name as a possible sacrifice, along with Gretchen DeBacker. However, DeBacker will likely emerge receiving complete atonement, having been part of the mayor’s campaign efforts since 2005.
When the mayor hired Tucker as Deputy Safety Director, Toledo had suffered record homicides. Gun violence and crime have risen yearly since former police chief Derrick Diggs left in 2015 to make Fort Myers, Florida, the third safest community in the United States.
Former Toledo mayor Carty Finkbeiner and voters put the heat on Kapszukiewicz to address the rising crime. As a result, Wade, perhaps in a rush to address crime (without re-hiring Diggs), implemented one potential solution after another without obtaining tangible positive results. These strategies included hiring JoJuan Armour as program manager for Toledo’s gun violence reduction initiative. Other approaches included contracting violence interrupters and hiring cabinet members, former fire chief Brian Byrd as Safety Director and Angel Tucker as Deputy Safety Director. Most recently, the administration has a proposal to contract with Louisville-based Cities United as a violence-reduction consultant.
These potential solutions were knee-jerk reactions that clearly occurred haphazardly or spontaneously. The City of Toledo needs strong, effective administrators and project managers. Yet, the administration also needs to learn what it is doing or what public safety should actually look like in Toledo.
As the administration prepares to hire a new police chief, whom the new leader will report to and how much money Kapszukiewicz will spend on public safety administration is still a question mark. Several council members want to be clear that the administration can justify employing and paying the high salaries associated with the Kapszukiewicz regime, which is overloaded with administrators.
For instance, “When the administration called to say some of the changes they were making to public safety in the beginning, I objected,” says Councilwoman Tiffany Preston-Whitman. “I objected, even before I knew some of the people they would put in place. I’m like, we don’t have a plan in place. You can’t just bring people on and not have solid job duties or job descriptions.”
Is this a situation of just another Black man kicked to the curb because they are expendable?
Tucker, who has advocated and served in the Black community for several years, has little support on City Council except for, perhaps, Councilwoman Vanice Williams. In addition, the Black community will likely be offended and angry about Tucker’s dismissal for only about a week. Then, within a couple of weeks, no one will call out the administration for its harsh treatment of a Black man. So, the mayor doesn’t expect any pushback from the Black community, which no longer hollers loudly or long.
So, is Tucker’s dismissal a matter of incompetency and failure to live up to his heroic potential as Deputy Public Safety Director?
Not at all.
Tucker left the Oregon Police Department, leaving a year of retirement on the table and a reduced pension to work with the City of Toledo to do something he thought they believed in, only to be let go without warning. So, taking the job was, for him, a major sacrifice.
Instead, the mayor has set Angel Tucker free to take the blame for the Kapszukiewicz administration’s bad public safety outcomes and cumbersome administrative budget into the wilderness.
Nevertheless, Tucker’s escape from the City of Toledo’s inexpedient crime reduction strategies also frees him from a caged, no-win situation that also appears toxic.
Contact Rev. Donald Perryman, PhD, at firstname.lastname@example.org