Wednesday, May 23, 2001

Civil rights procedures

        The U.S. Department of Justice outlines ways police departments can avoid the kind of civil-rights investigation Cincinnati faces now.

        The steps are broad, though, leaving Cincinnati police officials unable to tell yet if the division's procedures will be deemed good enough to avoid a lawsuit.

        • A mission to fight crime and protect civilians' rights that is widely known and understood.

        • Wide public dissemination of policies governing interaction with civilians and all uses of force, with clear prohibitions on discriminating based on race, gender, religion, ethnicity or national origin.

        • Required initial and ongoing training on anti-discrimination, use of force and other citizen interaction, with periodic reassessments on whether officers absorb the training and continue to understand it.

        • Appropriate field support and supervision for officers.

        • Collection and regular analysis of detailed data on officers' performance, including traffic stops, searches and other activity that can give rise to civil-rights abuses.

        • Effective systems to identify and control misconduct and civil-rights violations, including requiring officers to report any illegal actions by other officers, regular independent audits, timely discipline and a system checked regularly by supervisors to find any officer involved in too many problem incidents.

        • Well-publicized complaint-reporting systems that are easily accessible to civilians and officers, plus a unit with sufficient authority and power to investigate.

        • Full cooperation with any external investigations.

Police under scrutiny
- Civil rights procedures
Experts reviewing the case
The federal investigation

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