Federal monitor: Cincinnati has 'unilaterally withdrawn from the Collaborative Agreement'

Federal monitor: Cincinnati has 'unilaterally withdrawn from the Collaborative Agreement'

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A City Hall power struggle over the fate of City Manager Harry Black comes as a federal monitor who oversaw the city's original 2002 Collaborative Agreement and is involved in the current "refresh" or updating of it, authored a report some call alarming.

"The City of Cincinnati has unilaterally withdrawn from the Collaborative Agreement," wrote Saul Green and three other experts in a Jan. 4 response to the police department's collaborative evaluation, released back in November.

"The police agency, however, cannot simply ignore its core business demands, which require a major portion of the Department's sworn personnel just to accommodate these functions," states the report, which cites calls for service, crime and traffic as its core demands.

One city councilman, Wendell Young, says he agrees: "Saul is right on the money."

Green's report also says Cincinnati Police confuse "community policing," otherwise known as "community relations," with community problem-solving policing."  Community policing (community relations) improves mutual respect between police officers and community members but has not been shown by studies to reduce crime.

Community problem-solving policing is preventative, not reactive, and features police engagement with community members and other organizations to come up with solutions that help reduce crime and mayhem, according to the report.

CPD, according to Green's report, is making "the false choice between effective and fair policing."

The police department and city also abandoned the original Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV) program, which data proved reduced gang- and group-related homicides, the report states.

CIRV was dismantled mostly for budgetary reasons before Cranley and Black took over City Hall following Cranley's 2013 election. Black started with the city in 2014.

Green did praise a new problem-solving program, Place-based Investigations of Violent Offender Territories (PIVOT) as showing "great promise."

The report was quietly released by the city on its website more than two months ago.

Now, several African-American leaders who appeared before City Council last week to defend embattled City Manager Harry Black said he was critical to the Collaborative refresh.

Some also credited him for supporting it against opposition in the Cincinnati Police Department, opposition that was just documented in a memo to Black from Police Chief Eliot Isaac as being among many reasons to remove the agency's second highest-ranking official.

"It would be devastating to the Collaborative and the refresh if Harry Black were removed,"  Iris Roley told council members on Wednesday. The Bond Hill business owner is the project manager for Cincinnati Black United Front and a major activist for police reforms for more than two decades.

Black United Front was among groups who signed off on the city's original, landmark 2002 Collaborative with the U.S. Department of Justice, ACLU, and union that represents Cincinnati police. It was the cornerstone of police reforms after the 2001 riots and shifted the department

Roley and other activists are now concerned for the future of the "refresh" of the 2002 agreement that changed how Cincinnati police operate, especially when it comes to dealing with the public they serve, which in Cincinnati is nearly 50 percent.

The Collaborative Agreement stresses community problem-solving policing  that police and city leaders have boasted for years has improved police community relations.

Last year, Cranley announced the Collaborative Agreement was being "refreshed," or updated.

Police officials wrote in their November report that they would need more resources and partnerships in order to do what was expected of them in the Collaborative Agreement.

Or is there more to it?

Events leading up to the mayor asking the city manager he hired four years ago suggest perhaps another problem: Resistance to the Collaborative from CPD's top ranks.

The police department's second-highest-ranking official was recently "forced out" after more than 30 years, according to the police union president, because the chief and city manage were upset a report about police overtime was leaked to the media.

The leak, and another confidential police document leaked to FOX19 NOW were among reasons the chief recommended Executive Assistant Chief David Bailey's removal  in a March 8 memo to Black.

So was this: Bailey did not support the Collaborative Agreement and was against the "refresh," the chief wrote. Bailey was intentionally "undermining of the Collaborative Refresh Process by encouraging and undertaking in a confrontation attitude."

Not true, Bailey's lawyer wrote in a lengthy rebuttal to the memo.

Brian Gillan called Isaac's statement that Bailey is undermining the refresh process "the most offensive on a long list of very offensive accusations."

Bailey, Gillan wrote, supports the Collaborative and thinks that it should be the "backbone of CPD's operation."

The police chief, according to Gillan, is the one who opposed Cranley's decision to initiate the refresh.

Green's report also said the union that represents Cincinnati police is not participating in the Collaborative "refresh."

Last year, FOP members voted to withdraw from participating in the Collaborative refresh - and then they reversed course and re-joined a month later.

Now, Sgt. Dan Hils, FOP president, says it's not true that the FOP isn't participating in the refresh.

He says he is allowed to delegate his many duties, and a retired police sergeant who began working for the union last year and (and, Hils notes, is African-American) has been attending refresh" meetings.

Still, Green's report concerns the Sentinels Police Association, an organization that represents African-American Cincinnati police officers.

During a press conference last week, the group's president, Officer Louis Arnold, linked Cranley's attempt to push out the city manager with an attempt to weaken the Collaborative "refresh."

The Sentinels back the Collaborative and support the city manager's recent claim that a "rogue element" is "corrupt" within the police department in an attempt to undermine the police chief's authority, he said.

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