Violent Crimes Task Force
Formed in July in response to the most violent spring and summer in decades, the 70-member unit tallied 2,214 arrests in just over five months. It served 1,804 warrants, busted 53 curfew violators, recovered 78 stolen vehicles and seized drugs. District captains lauded the decision in January to break the unit into district teams, with six officers assigned to each. An example since: A drug bust in Evanston where officers surprised dealers by hiding in a U-Haul.
New Downtown Services Unit and walking patrols along Vine Street started a month ago to promote positive relations with the community and a safe image of the business district as spring and summer approach and seasonal events start. High-visibility patrols are slated for other neighborhoods, too, including Price Hill.
Officers have been recording race information about every traffic stop for 11 months. But typists are still entering the data, so University of Cincinnati professor Dr. John Eck does not yet have information to analyze. He was originally expected to generate reports after six months and one year. Without any data, he said last week he did not know when his report might be finished.
An interim system is in place to track potentially problem behavior. Broader than the old system that tracked only macings, uses of force and complaints, it also tracks vehicle pursuits and injuries to prisoners. The system drew fire from the Fraternal Order of Police, which said it should track good behavior, too. It will be replaced by a more comprehensive computerized personnel database, but ''we had do something in the interim,'' inspections Capt. Jim Whalen says.
Voters in November approved a new system of choosing police and fire chiefs, allowing outsiders to be hired. A Fraternal Order of Police suit is pending, claiming the vote stripped assistant police chiefs of contractual protection. Other changes in the command staff could come this year: Chief Tom Streicher meets age and years-on requirements to retire any time, and Assistant Chief Rick Biehl has indicated this might be his last year. The command staff did get a new face in October, when Lt. Col. Cindy Combs became the first female assistant chief.
Officers now have to explain, in words, the circumstances surrounding all sprays of chemical irritant, rather than just checking applicable boxes on a form. The use of irritant has been an issue since some African-Americans complained that officers used spray unnecessarily and for too long.
Violence up, arrests down
Changes made since April 2001
Q&A with Police Chief Streicher
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