Sunday, November 12, 2000

Police review panel craves respect

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Leaders of some Cincinnati black activist groups hope for one immediate result of the reignited problems between them and police — more attention to the citizens group assigned to review use-of-force cases.

        The Citizens Police Review Panel released its report Monday on a 1998 shooting of an accused shoplifter who tried to flee. They said they couldn't decide if the officer used proper force because the three internal and city investigations they had to review were too poorly done.

        City Manager John Shirey criticized the panel for taking a year to come up with nothing.

        That angered some African-American leaders, some of whom were part of the process that led to the review panel last year. The panel was recommended by a federal mediator in response to the 1997 shooting death of Lorenzo Collins, a black mental patient who had escaped and charged at officers with a brick.

        And now, after two more deaths at the hands of police last week, local NAACP President Milton Hinton and others want more respect for the panel and more action on its recommendations.

        Karla Irvine, executive director of Housing Opportunities Made Equal, went fur ther, calling for the city to immediately hire the panel a professional staff.

        Panel chairman Keith Borders welcomed the support. He said he hopes the death Tuesday of a suspect in Roselawn and the shooting of another the next day in Pleasant Ridge focus public attention on police/community relations and the role the review panel should have.

        “I think the issues are being clarified now,” Mr. Borders said. “We're really getting at the core of what needs to happen.”

        Some panel members still are disappointed at the city's lack of action on their previous report. In March they found that police were not justified in the shooting of unarmed black motorist Michael Carpenter during a traffic stop. They recommended more training for officers, as well as a campaign to inform the public how to behave when stopped by police.

        Neither recommendation has been heeded, Mr. Borders said.

        Panel members might meet this week with Mr. Shirey to talk about the latest report, Mr. Borders said, but not to be chastised or intimidated.

        “We're just seven citizens working on this,” he said. “We're volunteers. We have other jobs. We're doing what we think we've been asked to do.”


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