Cranley Proposes Bias Training for City Workers After CPD Racial Slur Incidents

Cranley has introduced legislation that would require training in implicit and explicit bias for new recruits

click to enlarge Mayor John Cranley at a news conference proposing bias training for new city employees - Photo: Nick Swartsell
Photo: Nick Swartsell
Mayor John Cranley at a news conference proposing bias training for new city employees

In the wake of recent revelations that two Cincinnati Police officers used racial slurs in unrelated incidents late last year, Mayor John Cranley has introduced legislation that would require training in implicit and explicit bias for new recruits to the city's police force as well as other new city workers.

Cranley also highlighted changes to city policy made by City Manager Patrick Duhaney earlier this year that clarifies penalties for city employees who use such language while in a work environment.

"We all know that racism is the original sin in American history," Cranley said during a news conference today about the legislation. "The use of the n-word is totally unacceptable, and we won't stand for it."

Duhaney says under old policies, discipline for discriminatory behavior like using racial slurs was unclear. Under the revisions put in place last August, an employee would be subject to 40 hours suspension without pay and mandatory retraining upon a first offense, and could be subject to dismissal after a second offense.

Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac says both officers who used racial slurs in recent incidents would be subject to those disciplinary actions should an investigation find they broke city policy.

"We have to be mindful of administrative law," he said today. "(The officers) must be given due process."

Body camera footage released Jan. 1 by the Cincinnati Police Department shows officer Dennis Barnette struggling with a woman outside the Brownstone Café in Roselawn Dec. 23 and remarking, “N***** slapped me in the face.” Barnette is white, and the woman is black. Barnette says the woman pushed him. She was arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer.

Footage from an unrelated, Sept. 26 call responding to a domestic situation shows officer Donte Hill and another officer attempting to break up a verbal altercation. The confrontation between a man and a woman becomes physical, and Hill steps in, using his Taser on the man and arresting him. As he does, Hill remarks, “That goddamned alcohol got you n****** acting crazy.” Hill and those he was addressing are black.

The Cincinnati NAACP says it would like to see both men dismissed from the force. And some Cincinnati City Council members say the city needs to take a hard look at the culture within CPD.

“I am deeply concerned about the actions of both Cincinnati Police officers using racially charged language,” Councilwoman Tamaya Dennard wrote Dec. 30. “However, as you all know for me, it’s about systems change. I am asking the CPD and the City Administration to come before my committee to discuss how they teach/train officers to go into different communities equipped with the cultural competencies required to protect and serve this entire city. An officer’s ability to be fair is the most important part of their job. If we don’t have the confidence they can do that, what is the point?”

Isaac said the use of the epithet was "unacceptable" and "will not be tolerated."

 "I personally know the sting of that word," he said. "It has no place in a police department or city government."
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