Friday, October 11, 2002

Monitor has experience in other cities

By Dan Horn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Alan Kalmanoff may sound like a mild-mannered college professor when he talks about his background in "social policy" and warmly invites strangers to address him by his nickname, "Kal."

But the professor's track record suggests he will be tough and outspoken when he begins work as the monitor of the agreement to overhaul Cincinnati's police department.

Dr. Kalmanoff, a 60-year-old lawyer and professor in Berkeley, Calif., was chosen for the job Thursday after a national search.

"We got the best," said U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott, who hired Dr. Kalmanoff after police, community leaders and city officials could not agree on a candidate themselves.

The selection means Dr. Kalmanoff and his team of 20 experts will spend the next five years making sure that the parties who signed the agreement are sticking to the terms.

If his history is any indication, he will not be content to quietly issue a written report every few months about his findings.

He has done similar work in more than a dozen communities, from San Diego to Akron.

"He's a straight shooter. He tells you what's on his mind," said Larry Givens, a former Akron police chief who got to know Dr. Kalmanoff when the professor was hired to evaluate the Summit County criminal justice system two years ago.

"A lot of people were content that things were just fine here," Mr. Givens said. "His study showed that was not the case."

Mr. Givens said Dr. Kalmanoff's study led to changes in the way inmates are processed into county jails and has streamlined the way the justice system is run. It also ruffled a few feathers.

At one point, according to media reports, some county officials became so angered by Dr. Kalmanoff's findings that they tried to stop payment on his $180,000 fee.

A similar spat arose recently in Kalamazoo, Mich., where some officials accused Dr. Kalmanoff of grandstanding after he issued a 300-page report that called for changes in the justice system.

Dr. Kalmanoff accused the officials of "ducking the tough decisions" and said they had a "formidable resistance to change," according to a report on WWMT-TV news in Kalamazoo.

The professor's background includes extensive work as a consultant to police departments in San Jose, Salt Lake City, Orlando and Minneapolis. He also was appointed to make sure California state prisons were in compliance with a federal settlement decree that required improvements in prison conditions.

At a press conference Thursday, Dr. Kalmanoff would not discuss specifics about his approach in Cincinnati and would not comment when asked about the divisions between the city's police and African-Americans.

But he did promise to be "straightforward and direct" in his work as monitor. He said the first step is to assess the issues in Cincinnati, determine exactly what is expected of everyone and then measure how well the parties do.

In some ways, he said, the job is simple. He compared it to watching over his 8-year-old daughter, Triana. "If I tell my kid she's got to clean her closet before she goes to the circus, that's an easy thing to monitor," he said. "You go upstairs and look in the closet.

"You assess, you measure and you evaluate," Dr. Kalmanoff said. "That's the job."

To help him do the job, he has assembled a team of 20 people with backgrounds in law enforcement and academia. Although a support staff will remain in Cincinnati full time, Dr. Kalmanoff will work primarily from his office at the Institute for Law & Policy Planning in Berkeley.

His staff includes several former police officers and chiefs from around the country, including Caroline Nicholl, the former police chief in Milton Keynes, England, near London.

Another member of the team, Fred Crawford, is a former police officer who has worked for years in Florida on reforms of prisons and police departments.

Judge Dlott described the group as "a dream team."

Dr. Kalmanoff said work would begin immediately with his team reviewing documents and interviewing the parties involved.

"We want to help all of these people who are committed to change," Dr. Kalmanoff said. "I can't think of anything more meaningful than this."