Wednesday, August 08, 2001

Racial profiling surveys continue

Thousands questioned in effort to settle suit

By Kristina Goetz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The mediator helping Cincinnati resolve a federal racial profiling lawsuit has collected more than 2,200 surveys from people with ideas on strengthening police-community relations.

        “What we're saying to people is, "What you think really matters to us, and we're serious about that,'” said Jay Rothman, president of Aria Group, the Yellow Springs, Ohio, firm facilitating the mediation process.

    Take part in Cincinnati's racial profiling mediation process by filling out an online questionnaire. You must provide your name, address and telephone number, though they remain confidential.
    The questionnaire also asks if you'd be willing to attend a four-hour feedback session. The Aria Group will choose about 800 people to participate.
    1: Log on the Aria Group's Web site at
    2: Click on the link that says, “Click here for the Cincinnati Police-Community relations Collaborative.”
    3: Then click on the link that says, “Please click here to access the questionnaire.”
    4: Fill out the forms completely, answering three questions.
        Since U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott named Mr. Rothman to head mediation in April, the Aria Group has been collecting surveys online and in person, then organizing sessions in which a fraction of those surveyed meet to brainstorm and set goals for change.

        Those goals will be used to create a settlement agreement to be presented to the judge in December, resolving the class-action lawsuit accusing the city of decades of discrimination against blacks.

        Organizers hope to get 8,000 people in the city of 331,285 to fill out questionnaires, or 1,000 in each of eight targeted groups of people. In the first outreach, organizers focused their efforts on youth, canvassing neighborhoods, visiting community centers and arranging survey sessions in schools.

        The firm collected 738 surveys from people age 14 to 25 and will hold the feedback session for this group Aug. 16.

        “I think it's a powerful process,” said Nashid Shakir, chief financial officer for the Cincinnati Collective Learning Center and an interviewer for Aria Group. “We heard, "Yeah, I want it (the survey). I'll give you my name. I want someone to feel what's in my heart.'

        “They've come to the table. They've given what they have.”

        Though the time for youth to fill out surveys is over, there is still time for people in other targeted groups to participate.

        Next groups: members of the police force and blacks. About 100 police officers and their family members have filled out the surveys so far.

        And 325 blacks age 26 and older have gone online to share their stories and ideas.

        The feedback sessions for police and blacks will be Aug. 29 and Sept. 5, respectively.


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