Monday, December 11, 2000

Q&A with Chief Streicher

        Cincinnati Police Chief Tom Streicher talked with the Enquirer last week about the future of the Cincinnati Police Division.

        ENQUIRER: What do you think about allegations that the Cincinnati Police Division has a serious problem with race relations?

CHIEF STREICHER: A lot of it's perception. A lot of people still have the same perceptions about the police that they did back in the '60s. I've been here since '71, when it was a predominantly white, male organization. It's better now. But that's a glaring reason why diversity is needed in any organization.

        But there's even a more glaring reason in the public sector where public safety is concerned. How do people feel if they come to the police division and find a whole bunch of white people and they happen not to be white?

        It's important that people feel comfortable. And we're working on that. We need to do some things to show that we've evolved as a police agency.

        Do the race questions bother you?

No. Police officers receive their authority from society. I can't go to Frisch's and order a Big Boy, fries and a badge. So society has the legitimate authority to ask why of us. That's how things have to be.

        How do you explain officers being assigned to stand near the Ku Klux Klan's cross on Fountain Square?

        The only issue there for us is protection of property and protection of life. And to try to stop any kind of incident where people could get hurt. Anything beyond that or short of that would be inappropriate.

        What are your goals for the rest of your tenure as chief?

I'm talking about raising the bar for the entire police division.

        It's not just have we made enough arrests or written enough tickets? It's that I want the mid-level managers to be there working with their cops. It's that I want the command staff to realize they're running this place like it's a business and are they managing their resources the best they can?

        For me, it's how do I inspire the top people here to challenge their people to do things in a better way?

        What can you do about current public perception of the police division?

        I don't think that I can convince everybody. Some things the police do are not very popular. But for every one person who criticizes us, I can promise you there are 100 people who think we're doing a good job.

        To try to convince people to like me or to like the police division? I think that's wrong. But speaking the truth and being honest, I hope that's what works.

        All I can say is here's Tom Streicher and this is what I'm about.

        — Jane Prendergast


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