Keith Fangman, past president and current vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police, predicts the past year will go down as the worst in his career. Since January, he has patrolled a beat in Over-the-Rhine. He was interviewed recently by Enquirer reporter Jane Prendergast.
What has it been like, being a Cincinnati cop the past year?
''When we look back on our 25-year careers with the Cincinnati Police Department, the last year will be the low point. 2001 will definitely be the low point. Riots, three officers indicted, three officers put on trial, a Justice Department investigation, FBI investigation, racial-profiling lawsuit, constant attacks from our critics. It's been horrible.''
How is it being back on patrol, especially in Over-the-Rhine?
''It's been a great experience. I'm working in Over-the-Rhine on the night shift, and I've not had one negative experience. I've been pleasantly surprised at how well things have gone. People say, 'There's Fangman, there's Fangman!' But they don't say anything negative after that.
''My experience reinforces what I said for four years as FOP president. And that is that 95 percent of the people in Over-the-Rhine are good, decent, honest people who are just as concerned about protecting their children from riots and crack dealers as people in the suburbs are. Suffice to say, the only people in Over-the-Rhine who don't like cops are criminals.''
How do officers feel about the future, given the changes still to come through the U.S. Department of Justice and racial-profiling mediation?
''We're optimistic, but we're also very wary. The reason we have good reason to be wary, even a little suspicious, is we are dealing with individuals, many of whom make no bones about their dislike for law enforcement.''
Do you think this will lead to better police-community relations?
''I would like nothing better than for us to have a working relationship with these people. One that is built on trust and mutual respect. We're just going to need a little time to heal some of the wounds. And I think that's possible. But that will never be done at the expense of our officers.''
A year ago, you said morale was terrible. How is it now?
''It's pretty good right now. We know we've come through a lot. The issues are still there, but they're not a dark cloud anymore.''
Violence up, arrests down
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Q&A with former F.O.P. president Keith Fangman
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