CINCINNATI — When the city's police accountability agency interviews officers, an investigator records those conversations as part of their review of police conduct.
But when officers have tried in recent interviews to make their own recordings, they've been met with threats of discipline and other intimidation measures, according to a federal lawsuit filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.
Among the plaintiffs in the suit is local Fraternal Order of Police president Sgt. Dan Hils, who has remained outspoken in recent months about his concerns over the Citizen Complaint Authority. In the suit, Hils and others claim the CCA's "non-professional, untrained, layperson second guessing (sic) has resulted in reactive-only policing, increasing the City's murder rate to record high levels, as well (as) other personal and property crimes to astonishing levels."
Specifically, the lawsuit's complaints concern how investigators' interviews with police officers under review are recorded.
"Even though the typical policy should be to record the entirety of an officer's interview with the CCA, (an investigator) utilized a selective recording technique, whereby he turned off the CCA recording device at various times, creating a deceptive and inaccurate record of the matter," the lawsuit claims, leaving out statements made by the officer that could clear him of any wrongdoing.
The Citizen Complaint Authority — established in 2003 as part of the Collaborative Agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice, the city and the police department — is an independent department within the city administration tasked with investigating complaints of police misconduct. The City Charter mandates its funding.
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The lawsuit goes on to claim that the investigator in question, potentially at the direction of CCA director Gabriel Davis, resorted to intimidation and threats of discipline when officers have tried to make their own recordings of such interviews.
Hils' and other officers' complaints led Davis to initiate a policy Thursday, the suit continues, instructing investigators to advise officers under review that they are not permitted to record interviews and that the FOP president is not permitted to attend.
The suit seeks an injunction by a federal judge to terminate that policy as well as compensation and punitive damages against the CCA.
In an email to WCPO Friday afternoon, a city spokesperson declined to comment, "as the City Administration does not comment on active litigation."
Read the full lawsuit here: