Saturday, July 13, 2002

City lags in police reforms


Lemmie says police changes to be made to be public

By Robert Anglen, ranglen@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati City Manager Valerie Lemmie confirmed Friday that the city is still trying to come to terms with federal authorities over the first set of police reforms.

        She also acknowledged that police o city lawyers are still working out police reform issues with federal authorities and that police officers still need to be trained on at least 17 policies that were supposed to be implemented three days ago.

Lemmie
Lemmie
        The new policies include new discipline structures, citizen complaint procedures and use-of-force guidelines. Wednesday was the first key deadline in a landmark settlement that ended a Department of Justice patterns and practices investigation of the police department earlier this year.

        Ms. Lemmie said the city is attempting to come to terms with the Department of Justice over the new policies. And that's why city and police officials stopped talking publicly and refused to disclose any information about the policies this week after first saying they had all been put in place and had met Department of Justice standards.

        “It is not our intent to be secretive,” Ms. Lemmie said. “My understanding is that our legal staff is meeting with the Department of Justice.”'

        She said she did not know what specific policies are in question, but she promised to make public all changes required by the justice Justice Ddepartment officials.

        The agreement with the Department of Justice is one of two landmark settlements the city made following the April 2001 riots. It ended a patterns and practices investigation of the city's police department. The second agreement put on hold a lawsuit against the city by African- Americans who accused police of discrimination and racial profiling.

        On Thursday, city officials refused to release any information about the new policies. They also would not release any information about seven candidates who have applied for the job of overseeing police reforms for the next five years.

        City officials said that information was protected by an order signed by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Dlott. Her order refers to “drafts of any terms for settlement” and does not mention any new police policies or say anything about candidate interviews.

        Ms. Lemmie acknowledged the new policies were supposed to be in place finished on Wednesday. But she said the city still has 28 days before federal officials actually sign off on the policies.

        She said the city did not want to publish new policies or talk about them becausesince federal authorities might require changes.

        “We do want to make certain that the Department of Justice is in accordance,” she said. “The Department of Justice might be of a different mindset.”

        Another issue facing the city is that some officers have not yet been trained on the new policies. Despite the July 10 implementation date, Ms. Lemmie said police confirmed training hasn't been completed. She said it could pose procedural problems if officers learned about new policies by reading about them in the newspaper before being formally trained. on them.

        Mayor Charlie Luken would not return calls Thursday and Friday. But Councilman Chris Monzel said he is unconcerned with delays.

        “Unless the DOJ is calling us out on this, I don't see any problem,” he said.

        Keith Fangman, vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said he was disappointed to hear that the Justice Department might be critical of the department given the department's progress on the issues..

        “President Bush said emphatically his Justice Department would not operate as the internal affairs unit for local policing,.” he said.

        If the difference of opinion with the city over policies continues, he said the union “will make it an issue when Bush comes back (to the national union) in 2004 for the FOP endorsement.”

        Neither Justice Department officials nor lawyers for those who sued the city have returned phone calls seeking comment.

       

        Reporter Jane Prendergast contributed to this story.

       

       



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