Black: "It takes a lot to get a Baltimorean to do what happened - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Black: "It takes a lot to get a Baltimorean to do what happened this week"

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    Baltimore police and other agencies struggling to connect with the public they serve should enact the same community engagement policies Cincinnati officers embraced after the 2001 riots, Chief Jeffrey Blackwell said Friday.Full Story >
    Baltimore police and other agencies struggling to connect with the public they serve should enact the same community engagement policies Cincinnati officers embraced after the 2001 riots, Chief Jeffrey Blackwell said Friday.
    Full Story >
Baltimore is personal for Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black.

He was chief financial officer in his hometown before arriving last year to oversee the Cincinnati's administration. 

He's watched in dismay as unrest erupted this week in his old neighborhood on the city's West Side and near Mondawmin Mall, which he he frequented as a child.

"I know the people. I don't know them directly, but I know who they are and I know what their struggles are," he said Friday in an appearance on FOX19 NOW Morning News.

"I know what their aspirations and ambitions are. Everybody's houses are the same because they are row houses so you know what the house looks like on the inside. So it's sad to see that because things like this, when they occur, they are a setback. These are good people. It takes a lot to get a Baltimorean to do what happened this week. They are very tolerant people."

For Baltimore police and any agency facing an in-custody death amid more questions than answers, transparency is the key between calm and unrest.

"There's got to be excessive communications," he said. "They've got to work on making the police community relations much, much more healthy and we've got to deal with the wealth-poverty gap. These people are very poor people. We can't have portions of our cities prospering and others not prospering. We've got to figure out a way allow everyone in every community to share in that prosperity."

Black defended his former colleagues, particularly Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. 

She has come by some who say she was slow to respond to violent protesters rioting over the police custody death of Freddie Gray, 25.

"Having worked for this mayor, she's an extremely bright, extremely smart person," he said. "What I sense is that the magnitude of what occurred was not expected or anticipated. I believe they were prepared and ready, but i think when we go back and look at this was probably the largest incident of its kind since the 1960s and I think it caught them by surprise in terms of magnitude. I think they were prepared, but not for what occurred."

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