Cincinnati police commit to change in Collaborative refresh

CINCINNATI -- On Tuesday, 16 years after Timothy Thomas's shooting death at the hands of police sparked days of riots and months of long-lasting boycotts in Cincinnati, local leaders sat down with police to examine the progress police-community relations have made in the intervening decade-plus.

"It was time," Chief Eliot Isaac said. "It brought all the parties back together so we can continue to live up to the claims that we make and continue to make progress."

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The Collaborative Agreement that sparked an initial wave of reforms after Thomas's death lasted from 2002 to 2008, but "given the issues surrounding police-community relations across the nation," City Manager Harry Black said 2017 was time for a refresh.

The Collaborative refresh will ask experts, other city departments and ordinary Cincinnatians for their thoughts on improving police-community relationships in the Queen City, where shades of the Thomas shooting haunted the court proceedings in former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing's two inconclusive murder trials.

Isaac, who was a fledgling officer at the time of Thomas's death, said he believed the first Collaborative Agreement had changed the Cincinnati Police Department for the better. He has faith a refresh can continue to refine it.

"I knew what the department was like prior to the collaborative and how much different we are now," he said.

Citizens such as Morris Williams are willing to work with them for a better future.

"We aren't talking about perfection," he said. "We're just talking about improvement that we can feel."

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