Sunday, April 15, 2001

Feds study police practices

Lawyers sent from Justice Department

By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        U.S. Justice Department officials are on a “reconnaissance mission” to Cincinnati to consider the extent of federal involvement, City Manager John Shirey said Saturday.

        Mayor Charlie Luken said one option is for the Justice Department to join the racial profiling lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union against the city.

        “They're here on something of a reconnaissance mission,” Mr. Shirey said. “They wanted to talk to me about the environment of Cincinnati and get a context for what is happening in the city. Then they are going to make a determination if they can be of assistance to us.”

        Mr. Luken said the preference among Justice Department officials is to work with the city to make changes in the police department and not initiate a lawsuit.

        The Justice Department sued the city of Columbus and its police department in 1999, claiming civil- rights abuses such as filing false charges, using excessive force and conducting illegal searches.

        Lawyers from U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft's office are reviewing the procedures and practices of the Cincinnati Police Division, because police have killed 15 black males since January 1995. Although at least six of the men were armed with guns, the most recent was Timothy Thomas, 19, who was unarmed. Two others were also unarmed.

        “They could come in, review our procedures and say, "Make these changes or we'll sue you,'” Mr. Luken said. “They seem willing to work with us.”


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- Feds study police practices
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Notebook: Here and there