Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Memorial day

The mayor supports the cops


Cincinnati still has a few miles to go. But I got the feeling our city turned a big corner somewhere on the walk between Fountain Square and the Police Memorial at CPD headquarters on Monday.

We're finally going in the right direction.

The protesters are being left behind. They didn't even show up this year to dance on the graves of good cops.

As I looked around at the cops on the police memorial march, they were just like the rest of us. All shapes and sizes, black and white, men and women.

What separates them was defined by Police Chief Thomas Streicher. Those who died in the line of duty, he said, "were the ones who were brave enough to confront that part of society that infringes on the rights of others."

That's true of all cops.

Good guys wear blue

We ask for someone to enforce our laws. A few get killed doing it. And then someone tries to turn the cops into bad guys.

On Fountain Square, Hamilton County Commissioner Phil Heimlich said the cops are owed an apology. "We apologize for public officials who provide a platform to those who incite violence by appointing them to commissions and positions of responsibility," he said. "We apologize for elected officials who cut deals with boycott leaders - deals dressed up with names like 'historic mediation' and 'collaborative agreement.' "

"We are sorry that fringe groups spouting hateful slogans and anti-Semitic rhetoric have gotten more attention from the media than law-abiding citizens, who plead for help in keeping their neighborhoods safe."

There was payback between the lines. The target of his rubber-bullet remarks sat just a few feet away. It was Mayor Charlie Luken who squelched Heimlich's objections to the collaborative deal when Heimlich was on City Council.

And it's getting clearer every day that Heimlich was right. It looks like Luken sees it, too.

A city 'upside down'

Two years ago, Luken was snubbed by the Fraternal Order of Police at their annual memorial march. This year, he was invited to speak.

"Sometimes we get upside down," he said, "and it's difficult to remember the simple principles that made us a great city."

When a cop risks his life to catch a suspect who resists arrest, the first reactions should be: "Are you all right?" and "Thank you," Luken said.

That sounds simple. But only a year ago, Luken would have been unanimously chosen by police as the symbol of anti-cop bias at City Hall.

He sicced the Justice Department on the cops and handcuffed them in a fruitless collaborative deal to "end" unproved racial profiling. But now he has joined the FOP in criticizing the deal and says his goal is to "recommit ourselves to making Cincinnati the safest city in America," by showing "respect and support" for the police.

That's sort of an apology, too.

We still have a long way to go. Talk is cheap. Politics makes it cheaper. But Cincinnati is walking in the right direction - right alongside our cops.

E-mail or call 768-8301.

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