Council Split on Need for More Cops
Cincinnati City Council will vote Wednesday on a resolution that makes reducing crime the top priority in next year’s budget, but some members are questioning the need for adding 100 more police officers, which was proposed as one of several measures for improving public safety.
The resolution quickly was cobbled together last week after council and Police Chief Thomas Streicher Jr. were sharply criticized by residents for holding a press conference to emphasize that Cincinnati is safe, even though the city is on pace for another record-breaking year in homicides. After strong public outcry, a council majority introduced the resolution a day after the press conference.
Most of the measures mentioned in the resolution previously had been proposed separately by various council members. The measures included ensuring that safety-related items were fully funded as administrators draft a 2007-08 budget proposal. Council members proposed items such as hiring 100 additional police officers, buying state of the art technology like crime hot spot cameras and shooting sensor technology, and building a temporary jail.
Also, council wants to make a temporary police task force that has conducted crime crackdowns in Over-the-Rhine, Walnut Hills and Price Hill into a permanent unit and expand it into other neighborhoods.
When it came time Monday to begin the process of approving the resolution, council’s Finance Committee was split on its recommendations.
Although all of the items had enough votes to recommend approval by the full city council, some members dissented on specific proposals. Vice Mayor Jim Tarbell and members David Crowley and Cecil Thomas opposed hiring the additional officers and building a temporary jail at an estimated cost of $6.5 million.
The city recently hired an additional 75 officers, and Streicher hasn’t requested that any more be added, the trio said. Further, Hamilton County is legally responsible for providing adequate jail facilities, not the city, and the county recently struck a deal to ship some prisoners to Butler County.
“We’re not going to be able to arrest our way out of this situation,” said Thomas, a retired police officer. “In order to free up some of those beds, we need to look at alternatives to incarceration in some cases.”
Tarbell voted against the entire resolution, noting that it hadn’t been adequately reviewed and lacked a police recommendation.
City council will vote on the proposals at its next meeting at 2 p.m. Wednesday.
— Kevin Osborne