- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 13, 2002

The city of Cincinnati which settled a lawsuit earlier this month by activists who accused police of decades of racial profiling reached an agreement yesterday with the Justice Department to improve the city's police department.
Under terms of the agreement that Attorney General John D. Ashcroft announced in Cincinnati, police will augment and enhance policies and procedures in the use of force, and upgrade the training, management, supervision and discipline of officers to minimize the use of excessive force.
"Our priority is to fix the problem, not fix the blame," Mr. Ashcroft said. "Our mission was to identify areas of opportunity for immediate reform and remediation. In one year's time, Cincinnati has been transformed from a city of division to a city of reconciliation."
Mr. Ashcroft called the agreement "unprecedented" and said he hoped it would "prevent the kind of tragic deaths of citizens and police officers that have caused so much pain in Cincinnati over the past several years."
The agreement means the city will not be taken to court by Justice Department prosecutors but will abide by its terms.
Police departments nationwide have been closely watching the Justice Department's investigation of Cincinnati, trying to determine the Bush administration's approach to probes involving municipal police agencies. The Clinton administration took numerous police departments to court, rejecting settlement agreements.
The pact was signed during ceremonies attended by Mr. Ashcroft, Cincinnati Mayor Charles Luken, Cincinnati police Chief Tom Streicher and the Rev. Damon Lynch of the New Prospect Baptist Church, who had urged an economic boycott because of accusations of police brutality.
Steve Young, national president of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), also attended the ceremony. Mr. Ashcroft said that Mr. Young's presence "demonstrates the commitment of the FOP to work with us not just here, but across the nation."
Yesterday's agreement was hailed by Republicans and Democrats on the Cincinnati City Council, as well as by black activists and the American Civil Liberties Union.
There were three days of rioting in Cincinnati last year, during which more than 800 people were arrested and dozens injured after police shot Timothy Thomas, 19, an unarmed black man. The melee was brought under control after Mr. Luken imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew and flooded the city with uniformed officers.
Mr. Thomas was the 15th black crime suspect that Cincinnati police had killed since 1995. Ten of the 15 were armed.
The Justice Department agreement, which ends a yearlong investigation of the Cincinnati Police Department ordered by Mr. Ashcroft after Mr. Thomas' death, implements policies covering when and how police officers should use force, when and how they engage in foot pursuits, and how they deal with mentally ill people.
Under this agreement, Mr. Ashcroft said, Cincinnati police officers will receive enhanced training and will be held to a higher level of accountability. He said the agreement also improves the procedures for investigations into the use of force and complaints of misconduct.
"Rather than protracted, contested and costly litigation, this agreement represents the best opportunity for the city of Cincinnati, its residents and its police department to move forward together," he said.


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