The ACLU of Ohio today approved the settlement of its landmark racial profiling and police practices class action against the City of Cincinnati. In doing so, the collaborative settlement agreement has been approved by all parties and will now go to U.S. District Judge Susan J. Dlott for approval.

Scott Greenwood, general counsel of the ACLU of Ohio and lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, praised the collaborative settlement agreement. “This agreement is the best police-community relations agreement ever negotiated in the U.S. The landmark agreement would make Cincinnati the first of the various race-based policing cases in the country to wrap significant restrictions on use of force with commitments to bias-free policing and adoption of a community problem oriented policing model.”  Unlike the consent decrees in Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Steubenville, and other cities, the agreement gives the ACLU and the African-American community enforceable rights on all terms, including use of force.

The agreement is the result of well over 100 hours of face to face negotiation over seven straight days, more than 100 hours of negotiation in the preceding month, and a year long process in which 3500 Cincinnatians were surveyed extensively to determine consensus goals for improving police-community relations.  The ACLU legal team handled virtually all of the drafting and made virtually all of the proposals leading to the final agreement.

Greenwood added, “For the first time, a city, its police force, and the community have formed a real partnership to protect civil rights, to ensure accountability, and to make the community safer. This agreement can make Cincinnati the model for police-community relations and for resolution of race-based policing claims.”

The agreement contains the following provisions:

  • 1. Incorporates all Department of Justice use of force provisions and creates mechanism for the plaintiffs to enforce them.  The use of force restrictions include revisions to canine, mace, and weapons policies, provide a use of force continuum, and institute a foot pursuit policy.
  • 2.  Creates a Citizen Complaint Authority with jurisdiction over police misconduct matters.  It will include at least 5 professional staff investigators, a professional executive director, and 7 civilian board members.  All cases must be adjudicated within 90 days.
  • 3.  Institutes CPOP – community problem oriented policing, which partners the community and the police in addressing crime from more than the traditional enforcement model.  17 different proposals for implementing CPOP, with timelines and costs, are included.  The implementation costs, which the city will pay, are approximately $12.5 million.  The DOJ has agreed to provide approximately $7.5 million in technology costs to replace all information systems.
  • 4.  Institutes a mutual accountability plan.  At least annually, surveys like the ones involved in the underlying lawsuit will determine the degree of progress – including citizen complaints about police, and police satisfaction with their encounters with citizens.
  • 5.  Institutes a community partnering plan, privately funded, to educate members of the community on CPOP and dealing with the police.  This addresses key concerns of police officers that young people had no knowledge of how to interact with officers.
  • 6.  Provides 3 levels of oversight — a monitor, a federal magistrate, and a federal judge.
  • 7.  5 year term.