Thursday, January 29, 2004

Lynch opposes police hiring


Lemmie wants to bring in laid-off Cleveland officers

By Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

DOWNTOWN - The Rev. Damon Lynch III is opposing Cincinnati City Manager Valerie Lemmie's plan to hire laid-off Cleveland police officers.

"Cleveland cops kill more people than Cincinnati cops do," said Lynch, an Over-the-Rhine pastor who emerged as a key civil rights leader after the police shooting death of Timothy Thomas in 2001. "It's just unfathomable."

Lynch pleaded his case to Cincinnati City Council Wednesday night, but the city manager makes those decisions under rules set by the Civil Service Commission.

Lemmie said a class of Cleveland recruits could give Cincinnati a cadre of officers with urban experience. They would be given background checks and would attend a shortened police academy to train them on Cincinnati's policies. Depending on interest, the class could accommodate 30 to 40 officers.

"This is a great opportunity for us to meet some of our goals and objectives about diversity, as well as the council directive to put more officers on the street," Lemmie told City Council Wednesday.

Lynch said the diversity of the Cleveland officers wasn't the issue.

"The latest person killed in Cleveland four days ago was killed by a black cop. It doesn't matter. It's the culture of the department, not the color of the officer," said Lynch.

Cleveland police shot and killed a 24-year-old man Sunday after what police said was a struggle. A Cleveland councilman said witnesses contradict the police version of the shooting.

Ten people were shot and killed by Cleveland police in 2002 and 2003. Only two have been killed in police intervention deaths in Cincinnati.

Cleveland is dismissing 250 police officers - some with up to four years of experience - because of budget cuts.

E-mail gkorte@enquirer.com




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