Thursday, April 04, 2002

Police monitor called crucial to enforcing settlement

By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        If Wednesday's Cincinnati police conduct and racial profiling settlement is approved, the search begins immediately for a law enforcement expert who will monitor the police department.

        The monitor's job: Call the shots on how the police and community groups comply with terms of the landmark agreement.

        “That is absolutely a key position,” said Scott Greenwood, lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union. “The monitor will really oversee what we hope will be five years of continuous improvements of the police department and police community relations.”

        The monitor, who answers to a federal judge, will oversee:

        • Issues of police patterns and practices, including new ways to monitor individual officers and track use of force, citizen complaints and discipline.

        • Accountability surveys conducted periodically by both police and community groups to determine whether community-police relations are improving.

        • Community development efforts by activists to help end crime as part of a community-oriented policing facet of the agreement.

        “The monitor is a really big job here,” said Al Gerhardstein, lawyer for Cincinnati Black United Front.

        He said he expects the monitor will turn out to be a team of people.

        “We need a very good administrator at the top,” Mr. Gerhardstein said. “Working with the monitor is a police expert who knows this stuff cold. On the other side, we'll have a need for a community organizer.”

        Under terms of the agreement, the monitor must be chosen within 150 days. The job will be advertised in national newspapers and on Web sites operated by the city, civil rights activists, the police union and the U.S. Department of Justice.

        If those parties cannot agree on a candidate, then the Justice Department will submit two names to the federal court, which will make the selection.

        The monitor will be paid by the city. The city also will assign a police officer to serve as a full-time compliance coordinator.

        U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael R. Merz, of Dayton, will oversee the monitor. He described his job as the first level of judicial oversight in a “special master” role.

        “There's lots of measurement of progress, measurement of success,” he said.

        Judge Merz will decide any disputes that arise between the monitor and the city, police or other parties of the agreement. If he can't settle an issue, it will go before U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott.

        “When we end this, we hope to have a world-class police force,” Mr. Greenwood said. “And a world-class community-police relation.”


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