Sunday, July 13, 2008

Queen City Progress

It's great to see talk of progress in Cincinnati at this week's NAACP convention. I certainly agree that so much has changed for the better since 2001 (even if we clearly still have work to do).

I was running for my first term on Council when the April 2001 riots occurred, and that first term, 2001-2003, was spent basically trying to ease the tense environment, return safety and stability to our streets, and heal police-community relations and trust. Amid a number of large-ticket items that got a lot of attention (the Collaborative, hiring 75 more police, etc.), a number of less high profile, specific changes occurred that have really made a long-term difference.

1. the formation of the CPD Mental Health Response Team. Basically, numerous Cincinnati police officers were trained in how to apprehend suspects who showed signs of mental illnesses (many of the most controversial police shootings in 2001 and previous years had involved suspects with mental illnesses). I believe this 2002 reform (along with, despite the controversy, the purchase of Tasers in 2003), is a prime reason Cincinnati has since become one of the nation's leading large cities in terms of how rarely fatal police shootings/incidents occur.

2. the creation of the Community Police Partnering Center. Coming out of the Collaborative Agreement, this new institution created a fresh new set of community-police partnerships in neighborhoods that had experienced high police-community tension in prior years. The hard work of the Center's staff has given communities a voice and strategy to battle violence on the streets, while helping build trust between community and police.

3. Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence. Pushed through and led by Cecil Thomas, the Mayor, the University of Cincinnati, numerous community leaders and law enforcement leaders, CIRV is fast becoming a national model in targeting neighborhood groups most prone to violent crime--and providing group members an incentive to cease and desist from such activity, or face serious jailtime. Again, the approach is being done hand-in-hand with community leaders.

No doubt, the biggest changes we need to make to permanently improve things involve education, economic opportunity, and investment in our communities. But for anyone looking to study how Cincinnati turned the corner on the crisis of 2001, these specific reforms made a real contribution.

1 comment:

Brian Siegel said...

It was great to see our city energized July 14th, 2008 (Duke Energy Center and Fountain Square) and motivated during such a historical election, nominees frequenting more than Indian Hill homes, and engaging with the Cincinnati Community.

It inspired all economic classes, diversity, and people to gather together with interest in making a difference. We need more moments like this to get people interested in getting involved, excited, and gathering.

It makes it easy when big names arrive such as Obama and McCain, but I ponder other ways and ideas to get Cincinnati amped up! We have great potential, and many organizations are fueling wonderful efforts for a "Cincinnati Renaissance". We have big names, the arts, history, education, and many other channels to connect with to generate +hype.

What are your ideas, or projects you/other departments are working on to create such nostalgia and excitement? I am interested in supporting such ideas and projects!

Feel free to connect if you're interested in connecting and building forward movement genuinely engaging actions, and positive impact in our City/Communities!

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