Tension continues around Cincinnati's historic police reform efforts — this time centered around the president of Cincinnati's police union as well as one of the lead figures behind the city's court-ordered 2003 Collaborative Agreement.
The Sentinels, a fraternal organization representing black police officers, is calling for the resignation of Fraternal Order of Police Queen City Lodge 69 President Dan Hils.
The police union president has recently made posts on social media and written to city officials calling for the removal of long-time police reform advocate Iris Roley from the Manager's Advisory Group, which oversees the implementation of the police reforms that came after civil unrest over the 2001 shooting of unarmed black Cincinnatian Timothy Thomas in Over-the-Rhine.
Roley, a member of activist group the Black United Front, was instrumental in winning those reforms under federal court oversight and has continued to advocate for them.
Hils says Roley should be removed from the MAG due to protests she was involved in late last month around the jailing of former Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter.
Hunter is currently serving a six-month sentence for a single felony conviction. Her supporters say she is innocent. Many city and county officials have said she shouldn't be serving jail time for her conviction on a nonviolent charge of having unlawful interest in a public contract.
Protests by Hunter's most committed supporters, among them Roley, included picketing and chanting outside involved judges' homes.
"This lady is treated as though she is a partner in the city’s quest to improve police/community relations," Hils wrote in a July 23 Facebook post on the group Support the Blue Cincy. "Her presence in the collaborative makes it appear as a scam, because Iris is a con artist. Calling judges and police racist and intimidating a public official by going to his home to protest is not in the spirt (sic) of collaboration. Iris is going to do what she wants to do. That’s what activist agitators do, but that is what she is (an agitator), not a partner. Let us all tell the Mayor, City Council and the City Manager that this is the last straw."
The debate is a continuation of tension around efforts to revamp the city's police reforms, which resulted from a lawsuit brought by Roley and others following more than a dozen police-involved shootings of black Cincinnatians.
In 2017, the city launched a refresh of the Collaborative Agreement — a process which produced a report from a panel of outside experts suggesting the city isn't following some key tenets of the reforms. Hils has refused to participate in the refresh process — he says because of Roley.
In December 2017, the Sentinels took a vote of no confidence in Hils. Now, the group wants him removed.
Sentinels President Louis Arnold says Hils has a "personal vendetta" against Roley and serves his own agenda over the interests of the city's roughly 1,000 police officers. He also says that Hils is using disagreements with Roley as an excuse not to participate in the collaborative refresh.
"There is a very small minority of officers who Hils selects to defend," Arnold said at a news conference Friday. "He publicly fights his own personal vendettas against private citizens, other police officers, African-American community leaders and our police chief instead of that of his membership."
Greater Cincinnati NAACP Vice President Joe Mallory, civil rights attorney Al Gerhardstein and several CPD officers also appeared at that news conference.
"We used every tool in the civil rights tool kit to get to where we are today in the second decade of the 21st Century," Roley said. "Know that when Dan Hils is pushing against me, he is pushing against you... it pains me to have to ask people to take time out of your day to stand here and show the city administration that they should protect those of us who are trying to make things better."
Some Cincinnati City Council members, including Greg Landsman and Tamaya Dennard, have come to Roley's defense.
"One citizen stands out, for her unparalleled commitment to community-police problem-solving," Landsman wrote on Facebook today. "Iris Roley. Her voice, and passion for problem-solving, must remain at the core of our work to keep everyone safe."
Hils, meanwhile, says he isn't leaving.
"I will not resign, despite this request," he wrote on Facebook. "I stand by my belief that she is the problem, not myself."