FOP president: All members will be asked to vote on updating landmark Collaborative Agreement

CINCINNATI -- Just a day after he announced he wouldn't help update the city's landmark Collaborative Agreement, the president of Cincinnati's police union said the entire membership would decide.

Sgt. Dan Hils, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 69, said members ordered him Monday night to withdraw from a group working to update the agreement, considered a landmark on police-community relations.

But Hils told 700WLW's Bill Cunningham "maybe 10 percent" of union members were present for that vote.

Hils and FOP vice president Don Meece decided to petition the union's executive board for a special ballot on the issue following some pushback, and to mirror how the FOP voted on the original Collaborative Agreement in 2002.

"The entire membership will be given the opportunity to direct the union to participate, or not, in the Collaborative 'Refresh,'" Hils wrote on Facebook. "We will also petition the floor at the next regular meeting with a motion that retired members abstain from this vote."

Eddie Hawkins, the president of the predominantly black Sentinel Police Association, said many officers disagreed with the vote. 

"People have to understand that you can't get anything done without working together," Hawkins said. "At the end of the day, that's what it all boils down to. You have to work together. We are the community."

Monday night's vote was a show of anger at civil rights attorney Al Gerhardstein and activist Iris Roley for what Hils called their "attacks" on on Sgt. Shannon Heine. Gerhardstein and Roley helped shape the original Collaborative Agreement and have been working on the update.

Heine's bombshell testimony during Ray Tensing's second murder trial -- that the former University of Cincinnati police officer may have been justified when he shot Sam DuBose -- led Gerhardstein to file a complaint on behalf of DuBose's family. An internal investigation by the police department found no wrongdoing.

After Tensing's second mistrial, Roley sent a statement from several organizations calling for Heine's termination.

Gerhardstein and Roley disputed Hils' characterization of their efforts as an "attack." Instead, they said they were simply using a process established through the Collaborative.

"This is a legitimate question about whether her conduct in the Tensing trial was appropriate," Gerhardstein said.

An investigation is still pending with the city's Citizen Complaint Authority, Gerhardstein said. The Complaint Authority, independent of CPD, was one result of the Collaborative.

While it's been lauded as the framework for 15 years' worth of police reforms, the Collaborative Agreement began as an answer to a lawsuit alleging a 30-year pattern of racial profiling within the Cincinnati Police Department. It also came about a year after riots erupted over the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man.

In the wake of several high-profile police shootings around the country, local and federal leaders have pointed to Cincinnati as a model for how police departments can build trust.

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