CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Cincinnati City Council’s Law & Public Safety Committee passed an emergency ordinance Friday that would require all city employees including police to undergo bias training.
The ordinance authorizes City Manager Patrick Duhaney to take all necessary actions to implement training programs to help city employees recognize and eliminate explicit and implicit bias as they perform their jobs.
This training is a key component of the findings and recommendations of the Collaborative Refresh process, according to the ordinance.
It is intended for all new police recruits and current sworn officers as well as all other city employees “in order to counteract all forms of explicit or implicit bias which could negatively impact the manner in which City employees interact with city residents and stakeholders," the ordinance states.
Next, the measure will go to full council for a vote on Wednesday.
This comes after two officers, Dante Hill and Dennis Barnette, were recently recorded on body cameras the N-word on the job in separate incidents, sparking outrage and calls for their termination.
“I really think if we make sure that all of our employees understand the seriousness that we will take that any hateful language to anyone hopefully that we will not have to deal with this again,” said council member Amy Murray.
The city’s current policy suspends workers without pay 40 hours and requires them to undergo sensitivity training. A second offense results in termination.
Duhaney updated the city’s policy in October and joined Police Chief Eliot Isaac, Mayor John Cranley, Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman and Councilman David Mann in a news conference last week to go over it.
Cranley also announced the emergency ordinance to implement explicit and implicit bias training for all city employees, not just police.
They all have said this type of behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated and it was reiterated again Friday by council members Murray, David Mann and Jeff Pastor.
But the city’s policy doesn’t go far enough for Council Members Tamaya Dennard and Wendell Young.
Or for many other African-American leaders in Cincinnati such as the Cincinnati NAACP, Black Untied Front and Black Attorneys Association of Cincinnati.
Dennard unveiled an ordinance Thursday allowing the city to fire officers on the first offense.
She said she was willing to “bankrupt the city” over legal challenges that may come from such a policy.
To her, she said, it would be worth it to ensure that “people have the right to have their heads held high and feel like they are being protected and served by the taxes that they pay.”
But Pastor said Friday firing an officer on the first offense, especially one with a good record, doesn’t seem right. He also noted that sometimes the N-word is used as a term of endearment in the black community.
“This is not going to be a day where I am going to be politically correct,” he said.
Pastor came to the meeting after spending time Thursday riding along with an officer in District 3, which covers West Side communities like Price Hill and Westwood.
“It makes it very difficult, even though I hate the word, it makes it very difficult for me to say we can just fire them and just bankrupt the city over what appears to be a first offense for both officers," he said. “We need to do something, but bankrupting the city is not just right. To say that any officer should be fired on the first offense scares me.”
Duhaney updated the city’s policy because he said he he noticed many office policies didn’t have strong or clear discipline requirements. He revised it in October, covering misbehavior to make it clear what is expected of employees and supervisors.
He said he feels the policy now has fair discipline’ that would hold up in court.
The two officers who used the N-word, according to the videos, remain on desk duty amid internal investigations.
Barnette was put on desk duty and stripped of his police powers following a Dec. 23 incident outside a Roselawn nightclub.
An African American woman he was arresting resisted and pushed him, according to a Dec. 26 email from the chief to the city manager.
An internal investigation is ongoing.
A few days later, it emerged that another officer, Hill, also used the racial slur on the job back on Sept. 26.
But he was just given a written reprimand.
Hill is black.
Barnette is white.
An internal investigator brought the matter to the chief’s attention on Dec. 27, according to an email from the chief to the city manager.
The chief said he suspended Hill’s powers and explained the situation as the result of Hill’s case being miscategorized by other police officials, records show.
FOX19 NOW has a public records request in for all documents related to both officers' discipline and their personnel files and will update our coverage once the police department releases them.
After Friday’s meeting, the chief told FOX19 NOW he expects the internal investigations will be wrapping up soon and he will have a recommendation for discipline in a few weeks.
Discipline must be consistent, Murray and Pastor said Friday.