Wednesday, August 29, 2001

Luken and Fuller say more cops are needed

But candidates disagree on review-panel subpoenas

By Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The two major candidates for Cincinnati mayor agreed Tuesday night on the need to hire more police and to have police be accountable to a Citizens Police Review Panel — but they differed on the details.

        Speaking to more than 200 people at a Westwood Concerns neighborhood group, Courtis Fuller and Charlie Luken both said they support a plan to hire more police officers.

        That plan, pitched last week by Councilman John Cranley, would hire 75 more officers at a cost of more than $3.5 million.

In principle

               Mr. Luken and Mr. Fuller said they support the idea in principle — although both left the exact number of officers open for discussion.

        Mr. Luken said the added officers would help make permanent the Violent Crimes Task Force, whose staffing of 70 officers has come at the expense of patrols in outlying neighborhoods.

        Mr. Fuller said he would like to see a comprehensive study of the staffing needs of the Police Division and how best to deploy its resources.

        The candidates differed somewhat on the issue of subpoena power for the Citizens Police Review lPanel — a reform that civil rights advocates have demanded since the fatal police shooting in April of Timothy Thomas.

        Mr. Fuller, the Charter Committee candidate, made subpoena power part of his platform this week.

        “If that panel is going to exist, then we need to make it as effective as we possibly can,” Mr. Fuller said.

        “I think the key concern is, if you don't have that authority, then someone might just ignore it, and that might be valuable information that's being ignored.”

Long arm of law

               Mr. Luken, the incumbent Democrat running for a job that will have increased powers after Dec. 1, didn't disagree with Mr. Fuller.

        But he said he was uncomfortable with giving full, unfettered subpoena power to a non-elected board.

        “Understand what that means. It means that the Citizens Police Review Panel could, on its own authority, issue subpoenas to any of you, or any police officer, to come down and testify,” Mr. Luken said. “To me, that's the long arm of the law, and that's best left to the courts.”

        Mr. Luken said he would prefer that the board request City Council use its subpoena power, as it has done done twice in the panel's four-year history.


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