CINCINNATI -- A key to unwinding the details surrounding the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo. that sparked days of rioting and protests will be an outside investigation led by the U.S. Justice Department — a scenario in which Cincinnati police and city leaders are familiar.
While the Justice Department’s review will run parallel to a St. Louis County investigation, the independent audit is essential, experts say, to re-building trust and improving police and community relations.
“It’s one of the things you often hear citizens clamor for following an incident like what happened in Ferguson,” said David Harris, a professor of law at University of Pittsburgh who studies police behavior and policies. “Especially, if in the end, there is a finding that a police officer was not in the wrong, it’s best to have that come from an independent voice, someone outside of the police department.”
In Cincinnati, independent investigations into alleged police misconduct occur regularly. But in the last five years, the number of complaints received and investigated by Cincinnati's Citizen Complaint Authority have steadily declined – along with its budget and staffing.
WCPO Insiders can read more how deep the cuts have gone and why officers said the program has helped the department.