CINCINNATI — Cincinnati’s Citizen Complaint Authority, the body meant to investigate grievances against police officers, now faces a backlog of more than 100 cases.
Established as a key part of the Collaborative Agreement following civil unrest in 2001, the seven-member CCA is designed for people to seek justice for police misconduct before an independent body.
The CCA already faced a major backlog before the COVID-19 pandemic. The body is supposed to act on citizen complaints within 90 days, but some have been outstanding for more than a year.
Its members, including newly-elected board chair Mark Childers, say it will take more resources now to catch up and work with police on long-term solutions.
"We should have five investigators. Ever since I've been here, the most we've had is three. We're backlogged in cases,” Childers said at a special session Monday. “When you read a case from a year and a half before and it's just getting resolved, it does no one any justice."
For years, the CCA has been short on staff and funding, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated things.
"The death of George Floyd and the protests in Cincinnati and across America shed light on the constant need to work on police and community relations,” Childers said.
Childers says 25 complaints came from last week's protests alone.
The CCA is asking for $200,000 for the 2021 budget year, something Mayor John Cranley has indicated he will recommend. Childers said that increase is one-twentieth of 1%, out of a $400 million budget.
Iris Roley with the Cincinnati Black United Front says she and others first raised the issue with the city back in January, but never heard back. She says now it's time to act.
"It's so important that we know these things so that we can root out bad problems inside of our public safety division,” she said. “This is one of the ways that you have those checks and balances so that people can feel as though their lives matter too everyday, not just when something so atrocious happens."
Childers said a fully-funded CCA could establish, among other things, a use-of-force board to deal specifically with physical conflicts between civilians and police.
"Used at its full capacity, CCA will be an effective tool in Cincinnati's approach to public safety,” Childers said.