Thursday, April 26, 2001

Settlement delayed in profiling suit




By Robert Anglen and Dan Horn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A deal that could end a federal lawsuit accusing Cincinnati police of racial profiling has been delayed for at least a week.

        Cincinnati City Council agreed Wednesday that the agreement, which has been discussed only in private, should be the focus of a public meeting.

        Before approving $100,000 for an independent mediator to gather responses from residents while lawyers work out a settlement, council sent the deal to the law committee.

        “At least we'll get a public hearing on it. At least it won't be rammed through without giving the public a chance to be heard,” said Councilman Phil Heimlich, who pushed to delay the vote.

        He questions whether the city should even be engaged in a settlement. In a series of private meetings with council members about the suit, he said, city lawyers have raised issues about the merits of the lawsuit.

        Mayor Charlie Luken said he agreed to the delay in order to keep the process open, but scolded Mr. Heimlich for raising complaints about the case.

        Al Gerhardstein, one of the attorneys who filed the lawsuit, said he is optimistic that council's action Wednesday will not delay the start of settlement talks.

        He said he will meet this week with Mr. Luken and council members to emphasize the importance of moving forward quickly.

        Mr. Gerhardstein said he hopes the council committee will approve the plan immediately and forward it to the full council as early as next Wednesday.

        “I think they'll get it done,” Mr. Gerhardstein said. “This is a complex process because it involves so many people. While we'd like it to be on the fast track, it also has to be on the right track.”

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