CINCINNATI- Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio urged city leaders not to move forward with a plan to shift patrols in the city of Cincinnati to the Hamilton County Sheriff’s office. Cincinnati City Council members Roxanne Qualls, Wendell Young, and Jeff Berding announced on Dec. 15, 2010 that they would propose the idea as a cost-cutting measure at council’s meeting on Dec. 17. For nearly a decade, the ACLU, along with several other community stakeholders, have worked with the Cincinnati Police Department to improve police-community relations and promote positive policing practices.

ACLU of Ohio Volunteer Attorney Scott Greenwood said, “Community-law enforcement relations have improved remarkably in the decade since the police shootings that sparked outrage in Cincinnati. We cannot sacrifice the substantial progress we have achieved just to save a few dollars in the short term.”

If responsibility for the patrols was given to the Sheriff’s office, current Cincinnati patrol officers would be forced to reapply for their job through the Sheriff and would take a substantial pay cut.

“While I sympathize with officials’ concerns about cost, the loss to our safety and security if patrols were disrupted would far outweigh any savings realized,” added Greenwood. “During the uprisings in 2001, we saw the incredible toll taken when we neglected the principles of community policing. We cannot risk revisiting those same problems because of cost concerns.”

In 2001, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the Cincinnati Police Department alleging racial profiling and discriminatory law enforcement. As a result, the ACLU, community stakeholders, police, and city entered into the Cincinnati Collaborative Agreement in 2002. The Collaborative Agreement was designed to engage both police and everyday citizens to invest in the neighborhood and make their environment a better place for both groups.

The agreement outlined objectives such as establishing community problem-solving policing; building relationships of respect, cooperation and trust within and between police and communities; improving education, oversight, monitoring, hiring practices and accountability within the police department; and ensuring fair, equitable, and courteous treatment for all.

“City police and residents have made tremendous strides towards building effective, cooperative relationships that promote justice and also help prevent crime. Investing in community policing makes our neighborhoods safer and builds respect among residents and officers. Those principles are worth far more than the money that could be potentially saved under this proposal,” Greenwood concluded.