ACLU and Leis Reach Agreement on Over-the-Rhine
Hamilton County Sheriff Simon Leis Jr. and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have reached a settlement that ends a legal dispute about whether deputies are subject to the terms of the Collaborative Agreement when they patrol Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.
The settlement calls for Saul Green, the monitor appointed by a federal judge to oversee the Cincinnati Police Department’s compliance with the Collaborative Agreement’s terms, to review the use of force policies and training practices used by the sheriff’s office. Under the deal, the ACLU or any other party to the Collaborative Agreement will be allowed to discuss with Green any differences that might be identified in the review.
Also, the sheriff’s office agreed to use the Cincinnati Police Department’s mental health response teams in situations involving mentally disturbed suspects, and the sheriff’s office agreed to cooperate with the city’s Citizen Complaint Authority when it investigates any complaint filed against a Cincinnati officer.
Further, the ACLU and the police department will keep the sheriff’s office informed about activities in Over-the-Rhine connected with the department’s problem-oriented policing strategy that stresses a preventative approach and greater involvement with the community.
At the request of some local residents and business owners, Leis began patrols Aug. 1 in Over-the-Rhine to supplement regular police patrols. The troubled neighborhood has experienced a surge in shootings and homicides during the past two years.
According to a joint press release issued by the ACLU, the sheriff’s office and city officials, “The parties had debated whether the sheriff was covered by the Collaborative (Agreement). They were able to resolve the dispute by discussing what they each would do if the matter were settled rather than focusing on labels. This is a win-win result since the sheriff’s patrols will continue without interfering with the duties of the parties to the collaborative.”
The ACLU’s Ohio chapter, which is one of the parties to the Collaborative Agreement, had filed a federal lawsuit shortly after the patrols began, alleging the sheriff’s office must comply with the same guidelines under the court order that apply to Cincinnati Police. Leis disagreed, but had said the deputy patrols would continue regardless of a judge’s decision.
Signed in 2002, the Collaborative Agreement ended a racial profiling lawsuit against Cincinnati police and called for dozens of police reforms. The department is more than halfway through a five-year monitoring period to ensure compliance.
— Kevin Osborne