Saturday, June 02, 2001

Researchers urge police reforms

Race relations panel is listening

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A research team advocating innovations in community policing hopes to persuade Cincinnati's new race relations panel to adopt some of its ideas here.

        Members of PolicyLink, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Oakland, Calif., will be in town June 26 to meet with Cincinnati CAN. They were invited by Eileen Cooper Reed, director of the Cincinnati office of the Children's Defense Fund and a CAN member.

        The group's new report, “Community-Centered Policing: A Force for Change,” urges police departments to rethink a lot of their methods with more attention to how they affect the community.

        “There is so much innovation around the country,” said Maya Harris West, principal author of the report. “What we really hope is that police departments begin to adopt them.”

        Among the reforms the report highlights from around the country:

        • In Seattle, a group of officers and community members worked together on chronic public drunkenness. Instead of trying to close corner stores, which would have deprived neighbors of access to local shopping, they made deals with the owners — positive publicity in exchange for no more sales of malt liquor and certain wines.

        • The San Diego Police Department changed its long-held beat descriptions to correspond with the boundaries as neighbors identified them.

        • In Atlantic City, N.J., some police officers get low-interest loans to buy, build or renovate homes in the city.

        Paul Bernish, spokesman for the mayor-appointed Cincinnati CAN — Community Action Now — said the research is an example of the kind of “success models” CAN team leaders have been encouraged to seek out for possible copying here.

        “They're looking for things that can cause positive change,” he said. “People are starting to move pretty quickly.”


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