Saturday, December 7, 2002

New Cincinnati police monitor could be picked by next week

By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Selection of a second monitor to oversee sweeping reforms of Cincinnati's police department could come as early as next week following Friday's all-day negotiation session behind closed doors in U.S. District Court.

Lawyers for the city, police union, Department of Justice and a group of African-American activists would not talk about who the next monitor would be, but they said the city would get "good news" next week.

"Things are going pretty good," said lawyer Ken Lawson, who represents the Black United Front, the activist group that filed a lawsuit against the city accusing police of racial discrimination. "Hopefully, we will have a good answer for the people of the city next week."

City Manager Valerie Lemmie also said signs were good, but she didn't want to talk about the monitor specifically. "I will save that for the judge to announce."

Friday was the second all-day meeting lawyers have had with U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott, who is overseeing two historic legal settlements that call for the monitor. One of the settlements ended a federal civil rights investigation of the police department and the other suspended the Black United Front's lawsuit.

The first monitor who Judge Dlott appointed - Berkeley, Calif., lawyer Dr. Alan Kalmanoff -left in October after only three weeks on the job amid controversy over his bills and after city officials questioned the scope of his authority.

The monitor's job is to review a police overhaul of use-of-force, citizen complaint and training policies.

Among candidates who have been discussed is retiring Ohio Supreme Court Justice Andrew Douglas, who was supposed to be part of Dr. Kalmanoff's team of 20 legal and law enforcement experts. Members of that team have talked about staying on under a new monitor.

Mr. Lawson said Friday that the four parties involved in the settlement want to agree on the next monitor. That means Judge Dlott would not have to unilaterally appoint a monitor the way she did when the parties could not agree on a single candidate two months ago.

Al Gerhardstein, another lawyer for the activists, said he expects a decision to be announced "very soon."

"We are making progress," he said. "I can't really make any other comment."

Ms. Lemmie said there is one more follow-up conference next week.

"What I don't want to do is make any statement that would affect the outcome," she said. "People have come together."

In addition to picking a monitor, lawyers are also discussing the monitor's fees and how to address a $55,000 bill that Dr. Kalmanoff sent to the city. Under the terms of the settlement agreements, the city is supposed to pay for the monitor, but officials are calling for a $5 million cap over five years.

"Everyone is working very had to bring this to a resolution as quickly as possible,'' Ms. Lemmie said.


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