Saturday, July 13, 2002

A look at the deal and where city stands on changes

By Robert Anglen,
By Jane Prendergast,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        As part of its agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, Cincinnati officials agreed to sweeping changes of the police department. According to Cincinnati's city manager, these changes were supposed to be finished Wednesday. Officials declined to outline which changes had been made, leaving some questions unanswered.

        Among the changes:

        Create a cadre of specially trained officers available at all times to respond to incidents involving the mentally ill.

        Status: 90 officers spent a week in training last month to learn how to handle mentally ill people. The department also wrote a new policy on when to use its crisis negotiations team involving mentally ill people.

        Adopt a foot-pursuit policy that would require officers to assess whether a pursuit is appropriate, including: The offense committed, whether the subject is armed, the location and the ability to apprehend at a later date.

        Revise use-of-force policies.

        Revise chemical spray policies.

        Prepare a protocol for using a new risk-management system for review and approval by the Department of Justice.

        Issue a request for a proposal for the new risk-management system. Within 210 days of that proposal, the police department will select the contractor to create the risk-management system. Within 12 months of selecting the contractor, the city will be ready to test a version of the risk-management system.

        Status: The request for proposals for a new computerized system has been sent out and is available on the police department's Web site, The system is expected to cost about $2 million.

        Develop a protocol for conducting audits to examine citizen complaints on a quarterly basis.

        Ensure regular meetings with local prosecutors to identify issues in officer, shift or unit performance.

        Maintain a written checklist on how the Police Communications Section operators respond in various situations.

        Revise policies on beanbags and other projectiles.

        Create a special board to review all critical firearm discharges. The board will determine whether uses of force were consistent with police policy, if the officer used proper tactics and if lesser-force alternatives were available.

        Revise its disciplinary matrix to take into account officer violations of different rules rather than just repeated violations of the same rule. Increase penalties for use of excessive force, improper searches, discrimination or dishonesty.

        Status: The department last month circulated to every officer via weekly staff notes a revised, 39-page manual of rules, regulations and the disciplinary process.

        Review use of force training and policies regularly to ensure compliance with existing laws. There will be annual training for all officers on use of force.

        Develop a program to inform persons how to file a complaint against a police officer. Complaints can be investigated by the police department, the city's Office of Municipal Investigation and the new Citizens Complaint Authority.

        Status: Top police officials planned a major media campaign Friday to call attention to the new citizens complaint forms available in every district and every police vehicle.

        Train all officers charged with accepting citizen complaints on how to handle them.

        Complete a comprehensive canine training program. Within 180 days the department will require all in-house canine trainers to be certified canine instructors.

        Enhance programs for all field training officers.

        The officers will be reviewed bi-annually with recertification dependent on performance.

        Status: Staff of the training academy have made changes to the program, including reducing the number of officers eligible to train others and requiring probationary officers to write a memo about what they've learned about their beat.

        The department also wrote new policies on, among other things, use of mobile video recorders in cruisers, requiring officers to use them more, and on driving in pursuits.


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