Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Video short course in police dealings

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        It may be that a four-minute video is all it will take to avert the next violent confrontation between a Cincinnati police officer and a citizen.

        The Metropolitan Area Religious Coalition of Cincinnati (MARCC) is distributing a video to community councils, church groups and civic organizations aimed at showing how police officers and citizens should behave.

        “We want it to be a discussion starter,” said Duane Holm, MARCC's executive director.

        Mr. Holm told Cincinnati City Council's law committee Monday that the tape is not a response to rioting in April, which followed the fatal shooting of an African American man who was running from police.

        “It stems from earlier incidents where traffic stops by police turned out badly because people did not do what was expected of them.”

        The video was a joint effort of MARCC, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission. It was produced by WKRC-TV (Channel 12).

        It begins with a split-screen image of two men getting ready for work in the morning — one a white police officer, the other a black man. Each shaves, gets dressed and

        sends the kids off to school.

        The two men, the narrator says, are much the same, “except that the police officer has the added responsibility of keeping you safe.”

        The scene switches to McMillan Avenue near the University of Cincinnati, where the black man drives through a traffic light that has turned red and is pulled over.

        “Why is he shining that light on me?,” the driver asks as the officer sits in his cruiser checking the driver's license plate. “Does he think I'm a drug dealer or something?”

        As the police officer walks toward the driver's window, he thinks to himself, “I hope he keeps his hands where I can see them. He might have a weapon or something.”

        As the driver hands over his license and the officer writes his ticket, the narrator goes over a list of rules to remember when stopped by the police, including:

        • Keep your hands where the officer can see them.

        • Turn on the car's interior light so the officer can see your movements.

        • Stay in the car unless specifically asked by the officer to step out.

        • Always accept and sign the citation, because signing it is not an admission of guilt.

        Mr. Holm said the video would be made available to any group that calls MARCC (721-4843),the Cincinnati Police Training Academy (352-3562) or the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission (352-3237).

        “The video in and of itself isn't going to do that much, so any group that wants to see it will also get a Cincinnati police officer and a civilian to come along to help start the discussion,” Mr. Holm said.


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