Mayor John Cranley calls on U.S. Department of Justice to evaluate, update Collaborative Agreement

Historic agreement changed approach to policing
Posted at 1:53 PM, Jul 18, 2016

CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley announced Monday he was inviting the U.S. Department of Justice to update the city’s Collaborative Agreement, a plan in place to improve police-community relations.

Cranley told an audience gathered for the 107th annual NAACP Convention about progress made in the 14 years since the agreement was enacted, but he also called for the Justice Department to evaluate and update the plan.

“Inviting the Justice Department in is critical to see the change that is necessary to restore police-community relations to what we hope will someday be across the country,” Cranley said. “But the fact is, even though we’ve made progress, I’m inviting the Justice Department back in to update our agreement because we want to get ahead of any issues that may resurface.”

RELATED: After 14 years, what's kept Cincinnati's historic Collaborative Agreement going?

The city’s Collaborative Agreement came after the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and Cincinnati Black United Front filed a lawsuit in 2001, alleging a 30-year pattern of racial profiling by the Cincinnati Police Department. Cranley also mentioned the officer-involved shooting of Timothy Thomas in an Over-the-Rhine alley in 2001, a month after that lawsuit. Cincinnati police officer Stephen Roach killed Thomas when Thomas went to pull up his pants because Roach thought Thomas was reaching for a gun.

The highlights of the agreement include changes in training, such as focusing on the de-escalation of the use of force, changes in the use of force and the appropriate way to deal with those suffering from a mental disorder or substance abuse disorders.

Criminal justice reform was a hot topic at the NAACP Convention Monday, with speakers like presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton addressing the tension between African Americans and law enforcement officials.

“These changes made a huge difference and then we changed the way we hire and fire our police chiefs to give the people — the people who vote for mayor and other council members — a chance to have a say in what that leadership is about,” Cranley said.

Iris Roley, a member of Cincinnati Black United Front, agreed the plan allows members of the community to be actively engaged in the hiring of law enforcement officials.

“The good thing about what this model has done, it has allowed citizens to sit in on interviewing panels and look into people that are coming inside the police department,” Roley said. “That was a great suggestion to have some type of pre-screening inside of applications for police to make sure that we eliminate those that are coming in with those very enormous and implicit biases.”

Roley said the opportunity to re-evaluate the Collaborative Agreement  is valuable to judge its effectiveness.

“This agreement is so unique we have the ability to take a look at it,” Roley said. “Let’s see where we grow. Let’s see what’s not working. Are we collecting the data, are we reducing arrests?”