Friday, April 13, 2001

Police move with the crowds

By Kristina Goetz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        It may look like random officers are standing around in riot gear. And it may seem like scattered streets are being blocked. But the movement of officers, horses and squad cars is all part of the Cincinnati Police Division's attempt to protect people and property as rioters and protesters move across the city.

        “Movements are coordinated to respond to either hostile actions or to shut down streets,” Sgt. Chris Ruehmer, a spokesman with the police division, said Thursday. “They're not just wandering around.”

        When the protests began Tuesday, police set up stationary posts around District 1 and City Hall to act as barriers so people couldn't get near the buildings.

        When rioters spread out Wednesday, traffic posts were set up to regulate people and cars. And roving patrols were charged with putting out fires — literal and figurative.

        “If that meant closing streets, if that meant dispersing crowds, then that's what we did,” Sgt. Ruehmer said.

        As rioters moved around in Over-the-Rhine, police drew the line at Central Parkway.

        “That's the line we are not going to allow people to cross,” Sgt. Ruehmer said.

        Why there? Officers can contain crowds on the north or south side of the street. It is wide open, making plenty of room for people to gather and disperse. And since many protesters had been retreating to Over-the-Rhine, it seemed a natural spot.

        As the violence moves, police are deploying officers first by district and then by special team: riot patrol, arrest team and SWAT team.

        Because officers are on 12-hour shifts, there are about 500 on the clock at any given time. The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office is also assisting, as are state troopers from across Ohio.

        “We don't know what the future holds,” Sgt. Ruehmer said. “(But) we are prepared to handle whatever comes.”


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