Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Monitor critical of city's progress

Pace of reforms slow, Green says

By Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

One year after the signing of two historic agreements to reform the Cincinnati Police Department, the city has been slow to change its policies and is months behind on a new community-oriented policing strategy, according to the first independent assessment of those agreements, released Tuesday.

Saul A. Green, the former U.S. attorney for Detroit who serves as the court-appointed monitor for the agreements, said progress has slowed after an initial "flurry of activity" last year.

He suggested that lingering anger and distrust from two years ago - when the police shooting of an unarmed, fleeing black man in Over-the-Rhine sparked four days of rioting - were holding back the city.

"(Police) Chief (Tom) Streicher must put his prestige and authority behind the agreements, and empower those within the department responsible for implementing them. Similarly, the city manager and the political leadership of the city must hold the chief and his command staff accountable," the monitor's first quarterly report said.

Green said many police officers see the U.S. Justice Department mandates as an "extra burden" that distracts them from the "real job of policing."

"This is a false choice. Implementing the changes in the agreements allows the department to do the `real job of policing,' only better," Green said.

But Green did not hold just the city accountable. Everyone in the community - especially the plaintiffs in the racial profiling lawsuit that led to the settlement known as the "collaborative agreement" - need to change, he said.

"No longer are they free to criticize from the outside, without taking a stake on the inside."

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