Justice Dept. Likes Cincinnati Police Progress

Even as Cincinnati is on track for another record-breaking year for homicides, Police Chief Thomas Streicher Jr. took time this afternoon to appear with Mayor Mark Mallory at a press conference on the steps of City Hall to tout reforms the police department has made since the 2001 riots.

City officials recently were notified by the U.S. Department of Justice that the Cincinnati Police Department is on schedule to meet all requirements of a police reform deal it signed in April 2002. The deal, known as the memorandum of agreement, involved making changes to police training, the department’s use of force policies and handling of citizen complaints.
The Justice Department recommended that local police have achieved substantial compliance with 55 of the 81 items required as part of the reform deal. The recommendations will now go before Saul Green, an independent monitor appointed by a federal judge, for review.

The recommendations don’t end court oversight; rather, they indicate that police likely will be released from oversight once the five-year monitoring period ends in April 2007.
The memorandum of agreement is separate from a negotiated settlement to a class-action racial profiling lawsuit, known as the collaborative agreement, which requires additional police reforms.
City officials, the Cincinnati Police Department and the local police union all agreed to both deals in 2002, signing documents that put police under court monitoring. The pacts were negotiated in the months following the April 2001 riots that occurred after police shot and killed Timothy Thomas, an unarmed black man wanted on misdemeanor warrants, during a foot pursuit in Over-the-Rhine.
Since that time, the city agreed to pay millions of dollars to the families of Thomas and other black men killed in confrontations with police. Officials agreed to pay $4.5 million to settle the Thomas and Michael Carpenter wrongful death cases and 14 other racial profiling cases brought against the city and police, and $6.5 million to settle the wrongful death case of Roger Owensby Jr. The city didn’t admit wrongdoing in the cases, but Mallory apologized to Owensby’s family.
Today’s recommendations are a sharp turnabout from the situation just 18 months ago, when Green criticized Streicher and his supervisors of blocking the reform process and being hostile to the monitoring team. In December 2004, Green said that police brass were denying access to departmental activities that were necessary to gauge progress. At the time, Green asked a federal judge to find the department in breach of the agreements.
Two months earlier, in October 2004, then-Mayor Charlie Luken asked the Justice Department to be released early from the deal, saying the city had made enough progress on reforms to justify it. Justice Department officials never responded.
In March 2005, U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott ruled the department breached the deal and required stricter oversight. Since that time, Green and attorneys involved with the reform deals generally have said police have been more cooperative.

— Kevin Osborne

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One Comment on “Justice Dept. Likes Cincinnati Police Progress”

  1. There is zero job security in accomplishing a mission so silly and useless as reducing crime. Job security comes from “process.”
    Paraphrasing Lewis Carrol: “Mission accomplished” tomorrow and “mission accomplished” yesterday–but never “mission accomplished” today.

    Process today.
    (Except on days when “process” is closed for inventory.)

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