Saturday, April 27, 2002

Funds sought for police co-op

Federal officials consider request

By Jane Prendergast,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati police officials went to Washington, D.C., this week looking for money to help pay for changes agreed to in the cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice.

        They didn't — and didn't expect to — return with a check. But they've officially asked for the $12 million they say they need for technology upgrades, plus more for training and other help, said S. Gregory Baker, the police department's new executive manager of police relations.

        “We're still hopeful,” Mr. Baker said Friday. “But the staff there has to research how much of a priority it is for them to help Cincinnati right now.”

        He and Chief Tom Streicher met Thursday with Alex Acosta, deputy attorney general in the Justice Department's civil-rights division. They also spoke, he said, with the director of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance, which administers many of the agency's grants. They also asked local congressional representatives for their help in finding money.

        In pushing for the cash, Mr. Baker said they stressed the landmark nature of the cooperative agreement between the police department and Justice. It was signed April 12 by local officials and U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, who came here to hail it as a model for police-community relations reform.

        The agreement changes police policy on when and how police officers may use force and engage in foot chases, creates a Civilian Complaint Authority to track police misconduct and requires police to create a special unit to deal with mentally ill suspects.

        A companion agreement settled a racial-profiling lawsuit against the city that had been filed by the Black United Front and American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio. It creates a new focus on problem-oriented policing and will ensure oversight of the police department by a federal monitor.

        The monitor will be hired through a request-for-proposals process. The RFP is written and will be sent out soon, said Mr. Baker, who will oversee the implementation of both agreements.

        The RFP calls for not only one person for a monitor, but a team approach, he said, that uses experts in policing to advise the monitor.

        The RFP must be out for 30 days, after which officials will have 90 days to review responses and choose one.


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