Tuesday, April 02, 2002

Profiling resolution talks go on



The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Negotiators worked until 3 a.m. today but still didn't have a deal to settle the racial profiling lawsuit against the city. They promised to return to the federal courthouse at 9 a.m. today.

        “Slowly but steadily,” said U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael R. Merz of the negotiations.

        Judge Merz of Dayton was called in by U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott to help mediate the final days of settlement talks.

        Negotiators were working with U.S. Justice Department officials — who investigated the police department in a separate effort — on a range of topics. The group has already agreed on a new way to address citizen complaints and something called community problem-oriented policing, an idea that focuses on analyzing crime and finding ways to prevent it.

        The group in talks includes city officials, the ACLU, the Fraternal Order of Police and those representing black citizens.

        Pressure is building because a settlement not only could change police-community relations in Cincinnati, but also create a precedent for communities nationwide looking to solve their own race relations problems.

        This last day of negotiations came after a yearlong process that began in March 2001, when the Ohio chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and a group of local black activists asked that a racial profiling case be certified as a class-action suit, meaning it would cover all blacks who claim they've been wrongly detained by police.

        But before much could be done with the case, the city's worst race riots in decades erupted in April after a Cincinnati police officer shot and killed Timothy Thomas, an African-American man who was running from police. In May, parties to the lawsuit decided to broaden the scope and look at police-community relations as a whole.

       



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