Tuesday, May 08, 2001

Police ready, just in case

Strategy added street officers

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati police officers Monday night were again in riot gear and driving around the city in squads, checking for — and hoping to prevent — any unrest.

        They got help from nature. Rain started to fall just after Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen announced at 6 p.m. that Officer Stephen Roach faces two misdemeanor charges in the April 7 death of Timothy Thomas.

        The timing of Mr. Allen's statement allowed for many people, who would otherwise be downtown, to get home before any potential violence broke out.

        Cincinnati police, determined to avoid the rioting that shook the city a month ago, were prepared for Mr. Allen's statement.

        Authorities would not disclose their complete strategy, saying such tactical information must be kept private so officers are not endangered and the division's work is not jeopardized.

        But it was clear Chief Tom Streicher wanted his officers highly visible. Some were put on staggered, 12-hour shifts. Some worked regular beats while others were assigned to the roving squads, riding four to a cruiser.

        Officers in riot gear and rain coats stood outside the front and back entrances to police headquarters on Ezzard Charles Drive, where protesters broke the front door during last month's rioting.

        The police division's Civil Disturbance Operation Procedure calls for the city to be divided into zones — green for all-clear, yellow for potential problem areas, and red for places where civil disorder is occurring.

        Police officials declined to specify preparations for the night.

        “It's the chief's position that we don't discuss deployment issues,” Lt. Ray Ruberg said. “We don't want people to know exactly what we're doing, just that we're ready for anything that may happen.”

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