ACLU of Ohio Praises Settlement in Landmark Police Abuse Case as "Best in the Nation"

Affiliate: ACLU of Ohio
April 9, 2002 12:00 am

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CINCINNATI–The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio today announced a settlement agreement in its landmark racial profiling and police practices class action lawsuit against Cincinnati, calling it a national model for police-community relations.

“”This is the best police-community relations agreement ever negotiated in the United States,”” said Scott Greenwood, general counsel of the ACLU of Ohio and lead lawyer in the case. “”As a result of our lawsuit, Cincinnati has become the first city in the nation to agree to include significant restrictions on use of force with commitments to bias-free policing and adoption of a community problem-oriented policing model.””

The agreement came as a result of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Ohio and Cincinnati Black United Front last March on behalf of the African American members of both groups, citing a 30-year pattern of racial profiling by police.

Unlike consent decrees in Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Steubenville, and other cities, the agreement gives the ACLU and the African-American community enforceable rights on all terms, including use of force, Greenwood said.

“For the first time, a city, its police force, and the community have formed a real partnership to protect civil rights, to ensure accountability, and to make the community safer,”” he said. “”This agreement can make Cincinnati the model for police-community relations and for resolution of race-based policing claims.”

The agreement is the result of well over 100 hours of face-to-face negotiation more than seven straight days, more than 100 hours of negotiation in the preceding month, and a year-long process in which 3,500 Cincinnatians were surveyed extensively to determine consensus goals for improving police-community relations.

The ACLU legal team handled virtually all of the drafting and made virtually all of the proposals leading to the final agreement. The collaborative settlement agreement has been approved by all parties and will now go to U.S. District Judge Susan J. Dlott for approval.

The five-year agreement contains the following provisions:

1. Incorporates all Department of Justice use of force provisions and creates a mechanism for the plaintiffs to enforce them. The use of force restrictions include revisions to canine, mace, and weapons policies, provide a use of force continuum, and institute a foot pursuit policy.

2. Creates a Citizen Complaint Authority with jurisdiction over police misconduct matters. It will include at least five professional staff investigators, a professional executive director, and seven civilian board members. All cases must be adjudicated within 90 days.

3. Institutes community problem oriented policing (CPOP), which partners the community and the police in addressing crime from more than the traditional enforcement model. Seventeen different proposals for implementing CPOP, with timelines and costs, are included. The implementation costs, which the city will pay, are approximately $12.5 million. The DOJ has agreed to provide approximately $7.5 million in technology costs to replace all information systems.

4. Institutes a mutual accountability plan. At least annually, surveys like the ones involved in the underlying lawsuit will determine the degree of progress – including citizen complaints about police, and police satisfaction with their encounters with citizens.

5. Institutes a community partnering plan, privately funded, to educate members of the community on CPOP and dealing with the police. This addresses key concerns of police officers that young people had no knowledge of how to interact with officers.

6. Provides three levels of oversight: a monitor, a federal magistrate, and a federal judge.

The full agreement is online at
The DOJ agreement is online at

A previous news release about the case is online at /PolicePractices/PolicePractices.cfm?ID=7178&c=118

To learn more about racial profiling, see the national ACLU’s “Arrest the Racism” feature online at and visit /PolicePractices/PolicePracticesMain.cfm

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