US Attorney General: Cincinnati a better, stronger place since 2001 riots

Published: May. 18, 2015 at 3:19 PM EDT|Updated: May. 19, 2015 at 11:32 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (FOX19) - U. S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch kicks off a national community policing tour in Cincinnati Tuesday.

The visit is part of an Obama Administration initiative to underscore police reforms and boost police-community relations  and trust across the country. Other cities in the tour will be announced later this week.

Lynch's appearance will emphasize Cincinnati's collaborative agreement that dramatically improved conditions here following the 2001 riots.

"This is a city like so many cities that's had challenges, but has decided to come out of it in a better and a stronger place," said Lynch.

Lynch stated that Cincinnati decided to focus on community strength and building a positive relationship between the police department, starting with schools and children.

Her trip included an 11 a.m. appearance at Chase Elementary School in Northside, where Cincinnati police work with University of Cincinnati students to tutor and mentor children.

At 2 p.m., she participated in a forum with Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell, Mayor John Cranley and others at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Downtown.

A group of protesters gathered outside the Freedom Center demanding social justice as Lynch arrived.

Officials discussed how Cincinnati's collaborative agreement turned the city into a national model for police-community relations.

Reverend Pete Mingo helped write the original agreement but says even strong agreements can be improved.

"Some things that need to be tweaked and I'm happy that those that are sitting at the table now are able to do that without any hesitation," said Mingo.

Lynch comes to town as the Justice Department conducts a comprehensive, civil rights investigation into the policies, procedures and practices of the Baltimore Police Department following the death of Freddie Gray, 25.

The recent protests and riots in Baltimore in the wake of Gray's death are similar to Cincinnati's situation 14 years ago when one of their officers shot and killed an unarmed fleeing African-American, Timothy Thomas, 19.

The unrest ended with federal authorities coming to town at then-Mayor Charlie Luken's request.

The Justice Department, Cincinnati police and local civil rights groups signed a Collaborative Agreement that guided change.

"I've seen better community relations between police and citizens than I have ever seen before and it's growing becoming more solid. People begin to trust the police again," said Mingo about the agreement.

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