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Cincinnati Citizen Complaint Authority recommends policy changes after 2020 protests

Cincinnati police
Posted at 7:08 PM, Mar 07, 2023

CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Citizen Complaint Authority (CCA) approved recommendations for changes to policy and training at the Cincinnati Police Department. This completed the review process of the police response to the 2020 demonstrations prompted by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Recommendations are based on complaints filed with the government agency that acts as an oversight board for the police department. Nearly all of the 11 complaints focus on how police treated protestors from May 30 to June 1, 2020.

They include a complaint issued by 27 people alleging police did not give a woman with diabetes access to her medication. Part of that complaint was sustained.

There was also a man who claimed he had permanent vision damage because police fired a foam marking round that hit him in the eye, but his complaint was not sustained because CCA couldn't prove who fired it.

The CCA sustained 26% of the allegations, meaning there was enough evidence for the CCA to determine the officers' actions were improper. Half of all allegations were not sustained. Some of those cases were not sustained because officers didn't use their body cameras to record what happened.

"Officers were not required to wear the body-worn cameras at that point in time — the officers who were doing the enforcement — officers who were assigned to SWAT or officers who were assigned to the Civil Disturbance Response Team," said Gabriel Davis, the Director of CCA. "That language has been changed but we think there is still some room to strengthen, to clarify, to make it clearer when the exceptions exist and when they don’t exist that would bear on the use of body-worn cameras by those on the front lines of any future crowd management activity."

Adjusting policies related to body cameras is one of the CCA's recommendations. It suggests the department formalize best practices for their use during crowd control as well as ensure the cameras can be used constantly by all officers during prolonged protests.

Other recommendations include limiting the use of mass arrests during demonstrations, instead opting to issue citations, and a review of policies on how to respond to requests for medications.

"Just the request alone, under current policy, it's unclear whether or not that access to medication has to be granted if the officer does not believe that there is an emergency in progress or a medical emergency in progress," Davis said.

Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police President Dan Hils spoke during the public comment portion of Monday's meeting.

"People in the police department do not believe in a police state. We don't want to live in China or North Korea, but we want to live in a civil society and what we're saying is when there are protests that are turning violent such as this, you have to allow police to do their job," he said.

Hils said police should be commended for their work in 2020.

"Police did an outstanding job in the George Floyd unrest here in Cincinnati and I think that report is garbage," he said.

The report Hils is referring to is the CCA's "George Floyd Protests Report: Findings and Recommendations from Investigations of Policing Complaints in City of Cincinnati."

George Floyd Protest Invest... by WCPO 9 News

In February, CPD Chief Theresa Theetge voiced her commitment to implementing changes the CCA recommends, but asked them to keep a few things in mind.

"I personally was out there with the officers as well. It was not a sterile environment where they could take moments in time to think about activating or deactivating a body camera, stopping to tell a supervisor, 'hey, I just used force. Can you come document it for me?'" she said.

Theetge said that compared to some other cities, Cincinnati police handled the unrest well.

"I think sometimes people forget, we had an officer shot during this and only by the grace of God, happened to have a brand new ballistic helmet on his head. It saved his life," said Theetge.

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