Saturday, June 30, 2001

Proposed point system causes concern

By Jane Prendergast and Karen Samples
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Police officers and some city officials are worried a proposed point system to track Cincinnati police behavior is too punitive.

        The police division is under pressure to develop a new officer-tracking system that will suit the U.S. Department of Justice.

        The draft of Cincinnati's new Division Risk Management System sets point values for officers' work. Some examples: 15 points for unjustified uses of force, or an unjustified weapon discharge; 10 for violating procedure during a pursuit; 2 for spraying somebody with chemical irritant.

        “You can talk to any police officer, and they'll say there's feelings of apprehension about it,” said Officer Matt Martin, who works in District 1. “A young, proactive police officer is going to get into situations, whether it be pursuits, injuries to prisoners, injuries to self, auto accidents.”

        An officer who hits 20 points would be “flagged,” meaning his supervisors would review the incidents. His commander could decide he needs training with a veteran, a conference with the police psychologist or an assignment transfer, among other options.

        City Councilman Pat DeWine on Friday sent a memo to Greg Baker, acting safety director, asking him to review the situation. “The last thing we need to do right now,” he wrote, “is to unnecessarily make it more difficult for police officers to do their jobs.”

        Chief Tom Streicher insists the plan is only a draft being circulated for comments and that the system, when finalized, will not be meant to penalize.

        It will also point out, he said, officers who do good work. Even transfers, he said, don't have to be punitive — sometimes an officer may just need temporary relief from a busy beat.

        Fraternal Order of Police President Keith Fangman doesn't agree. Officers perceive transfers and counseling sessions as punishment.

        He said he understands that the division wants to monitor officers, but he doesn't think points should be assigned for incidents in which the officer is exonerated.

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