Monday, June 24, 2002

Police reforms could top $13M


Start-up cost figure rises as price of database soars

By Gregory Korte, gkorte@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        It may cost Cincinnati $13.4 million just in start-up costs to implement an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department over use of force by police officers.

        That's not counting operating costs of as much as $1.6 million a year to carry out the reforms in the federal agreement — reforms that include a new police oversight agency and a new database to track officer behavior.

        That new database could be almost twice as expensive as originally predicted, according to a city memo released last week. Once thought to cost $3 million to $7 million, the city now expects it will cost $12 million.

        The cost breakdown was included with a recent letter from the city's Washington lawyers to the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Assistance, the federal office that provides technical assistance for local crime-fighting efforts.

        “The costs may seem a little inconsistent, because we keep refining them the further we go,” said S. Greg Baker, the city's executive manager of police relations.

        He said the computer system will actually be two different but closely related systems:

        • A $10 million record management system — a price that includes $5.5 million just to design the system — will record all complaints, injuries, pursuits, firearm incidents, uses of force and other information on police officers.

        • The $2 million risk management system will use that information to spot trends and raise red flags for officers who, for example, lead their counterparts in the number of complaints or injuries to prisoners.

        Mr. Baker said the city also will use the specially designed software to track the performance of officers — good and bad.

        “Say an officer is leading his peer group in arrests. That's information you'd want to know in regards to officer activity,” he said.

        Deputy City Manager Tim Riordan said he hopes to get federal assistance for the $13.4 million in capital costs. But trips to Washington to meet with Justice Department officials have been fruitless. City officials are now concentrating their efforts on the city's congressional delegation.

        The city also seeks $1.4 million to equip all police cruisers with video cameras and to upgrade mobile data terminals.

        Annual operating costs in the city memo include:

        • A federal monitor to oversee the Justice Department and collaborative agreements: $800,000.

        • A city “compliance coordinator” to make sure the city is living up to the agreements: $125,000.

        • A new “Community Relations Section” inside the Police Department: $193,214.

        • The Civilian Complaint Authority, a new police watchdog agency with a director and five full-time investigators: $400,000.

        • Survey research, including five polls of Cincinnati residents to gauge public opinion on police officers: $150,000.

        • Legal fees: $100,000.

        The recent accounting does not include the costs associated with the “Collaborative Agreement” to settle a racial profiling lawsuit against the city. Those costs, which include about $750,000 for new community-oriented policing programs, are capped at $1 million.

       



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