Wednesday, August 22, 2001

Few cops fill out survey

Mediation session to be rescheduled

By Kristina Goetz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        So few police officers have filled out surveys on how to improve Cincinnati police-community relations that a federal mediation session to discuss their ideas will be rescheduled.

        The surveys and feedback session are part of the mediation process overseen by a federal judge to end a lawsuit that accuses Cincinnati of decades of discrimination against blacks.

        The feedback session, which was scheduled for Aug. 29, would have been the third in a series of eight. A fraction of those surveyed in each of eight targeted groups — African-Americans and business owners, among others — are invited to such sessions to set priorities for goals to improve police-community relations.

        “The bottom line is this has been a difficult group to get to,” said Brooke Hill, spokeswoman for the Aria Group, the conflict resolution firm leading the mediation process.

        Despite a letter encouraging participation signed by Chief Tom Streicher, FOP President Keith Fangman and Sentinels President Scotty Johnson, only 158 officers and their family members have filled out surveys online or in hard copy.

        “It's their own personal choice,” Chief Streicher said. “We don't mandate them to do it.”

        The numbers compare with much higher rates among other groups surveyed, including 738 youths, 329 African-American citizens, 217 white citizens, and 341 religious and social service leaders, among others.

        “It's a personal, voluntary process,” said police Lt. Col. Richard Janke. “And the worst thing you can do in a process like this is to conjecture about people's motivations. It's part of what we're going to have a nice discussion about on Tuesday.”

        Aria Group members will meet Tuesday morning with top division officials to discuss ways to encourage more participation and provide information about the process. Though the goal in the other targeted groups is to get 1,000 people to fill out surveys, that is not the case for police, because there are only 1,020 officers in the Cincinnati Police Division.

        “That is one thing we will discuss at the meeting: What is a reasonable goal?” Ms. Hill said. “We want a reasonable number from across the board.”

        After the meeting, Aria Group professionals will have a better idea of when the rescheduled date for the police feedback session will be.


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