Thursday, April 12, 2001

Panel's view: What should the city do next?

        Two months ago, a group of influential business, political, civic and social leaders ago pledged to make improving race relations a top priority.

        The group, organized by The Cincinnati Enquirer for a forum on race, predicted that racial divisions would threaten the future of the Tristate.

        After a tumultuous week that seems to illustrate their point, some panel members offered these suggestions about what Cincinnati should do next.

        - Richelle Thompson

        “We ought to go back and look how we select the police chief. I think we should strengthen the civilian review board, give them subpoena powers and a staff person.

        “There need to be changes in the housing policy. We cannot keep putting low-income housing in the black neighborhoods. That just expands the number of poor, black people who are already there.”

        - Karla Irvine, Executive director, Housing Opportunities Made Equal

        “We need to convene a diplomatic corps in Cincinnati to help people with the language. Our political posturing tends to get in the way of some real important dialogue.

        “We need to look at creating a youth posse, have young people talk to their peer group and explain there are lots of alternatives to ... violence.

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        “We should look at police officer selection in a new light and choose people who are as skilled at community dialogue as they are shooting.

        “The chief should travel to other communities and see what strategies other police departments are using to improve relations.

        “We should increase education and training. The whole community has to look for ways to become more linked and appreciate different lifestyles.

        “If you are disappointed, saddened or horrified by this continuing problem in Cincinnati, then say something. Speak to your neighbor. Ask what can be done. Everybody has a piece in this.”

        - Linda Bates Parker, Director, Career Development Center, University of Cincinnati

        “There needs to be a transformation of the police force, so their first choice is not to shoot their weapon.”

        “The men in blue are supposed to be the good guys. I don't want to paint them all as bad guys.... There are some renegade police officers, and you have to purge the system of them.... If it means bringing the outsiders in, then someone has to come in and root it out.”

        Police leaders should “make statements and take actions that can demonstrate to the community that there is no hidden agenda. They should be open and honest.”

        - Clifford A. Bailey, president/chief executive of TechSoft Systems; also a board member of Downtown Cincinnati Inc. and the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce

        “The city has to hold folks accountable for their behavior in a very real way. Citizens are held accountable, so (the police) need to be held accountable, too. Folks need some closure — the investigation shouldn't take months and months.

        “We as adults in the community have to let (young people) know they are valued. We need to help kids make anger productive, not negative, and continue to give them the message they do not have to be afraid for their lives. We need to sit down and talk with kids, ask them what they need to be different. Adults should be mentors and model behavior to children and teens.”

        - Eileen Cooper-Reed, Director of Children's Defense Fund of Cincinnati; lawyer

        “We need to restore the police-community relations to a healthy level. Just like with a business, when the results aren't where they need to be, it's important to review and make changes in strategy, training, procedures and communication, and make sure you've got the right people in the right spots.”

        - Michael A. Fisher, President/chief executive, Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce

        “We have to view this rather tragic moment as an opportunity for more intense communication on the topic of community-police relations. These very difficult times bring people into contact with each other who might otherwise not be associated, and it causes folks with very divergent opinions to communicate.

        “We have to keep talking. There's only one way to make progress: Keep working on it.”

        Ray Brokamp, Director, Leadership Cincinnati


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Ministers rally, then walk the streets
- Panel's view: What should the city do next?
PULFER: Refusing to give up on the city
Residents try to comprehend destruction
Violence a sign of unsolved problems
Arrests mostly of young males
Bengal Basnight wants to help stop violence
Reds urge end to violence
Parker: Problems have better solutions
Image worries downtown merchants
School activities address unrest