Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Cop shooting

One side is failing the test


Here's a quiz:

Q. Cincinnati's Collaborative Agreement on race relations applies to:

1. Police only.

2. The city.

3. The cops, the city and the Black United Front and the ACLU and all the reckless protesters who accuse another cop of "murder'' because he shot a black burglary suspect who assaulted the officer with a deadly weapon.

The answer is No. 3. But it looks like everyone in town thinks it is "Police only.''

There's a lot of talk about how the cops were more open and accountable about the latest killing of a black suspect on Sunday. They shared information quickly, even called to fill in the BUF and the ACLU.

A two-way street

But the question that nobody is asking is: Where's the accountability on the other side? What are the ACLU and the BUF doing to make sure the community responds the right way this time?

The answer: Zilch.

They are not "proactive partners in community problem solving,'' as it says in the agreement they signed. I see no "effort to foster support for the police.''

In the collaborative, the BUF and the ACLU agreed to help citizens "develop more trust, respect and acceptance'' of cops.

Instead, it's zippo - just more incendiary comments like a lighter in a fireworks warehouse.

It's the same old racial rhetoric: Blame the cops, never the criminal.

Convicted burglar Andre Sherrer attacked Officer Michael Schulte with Schulte's nightstick, and Schulte shot him to death. Unless there's a big surprise, it's a simple story of a brave cop doing his job in a life-and-death struggle in a dark alley.

As the Collaborative says on Page 2: "Blame is an obstacle to progress.''

"My advice is to assume that the officer was attempting to do the right thing and wait to see what the investigation reveals,'' said Stefanie Sunderland, a vice president of the community council in Northside, where the shooting happened.

Stirring up trouble

Instead, she said, Northside residents complained that protesters "stirred up the racial pot without being familiar with our neighborhood at all.''

"They're not from our community and they have had no involvement with our community.''

This incident was a good opportunity for the BUF and the ACLU to step in and foster a greater "awareness of the motivations of police officers and the challenges they face,'' as it says in the collaborative. They could have pointed out that Northside and other neighborhoods are begging for more aggressive law enforcement to drive out drug crime.

"All of us are crying for more police protection,'' Sunderland said. "Burglaries are significantly higher than most communities in the city.''

If Cincinnati hangs another cop for doing his job, crime will continue to spread. "The greatest danger is that officers will be hesitant to be proactive and will wait for that backup call and more people will be hurt,'' Sunderland said.

This is a test. The police passed. The BUF and the ACLU are failing.

E-mail or call 768-8301.

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