Police Union President Calls CCA Reform Recommendations 'Garbage'

Dan Hils claims ANTIFA agitators made mass arrests during 2020's summer protests necessary.

Mar 10, 2023 at 3:12 pm
Demonstrators join the Cincinnati Black Lives Matter march and rally in June 2020 to protest the death of George Floyd and others at the hands of police. - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Demonstrators join the Cincinnati Black Lives Matter march and rally in June 2020 to protest the death of George Floyd and others at the hands of police.

Cincinnati’s Citizen Complaint Authority (CCA) has approved a set of recommendations for police reform as a result of the 2020 George Floyd protests in Downtown and Over-the-Rhine. But Cincinnati's police union president told CityBeat the report is "garbage," blaming ANTIFA for the need for mass arrests.

The CCA is a city-funded independent oversight board for the Cincinnati Police Department, reporting directly to the city manager’s office. Investigators with the CCA look into allegations of police misconduct, like excessive use of force or civil rights violations. The board makes police reform recommendations to CPD based on its findings.

CCA’s recent report on the May and June 2020 George Floyd protests in Downtown and Over-the-Rhine says more than 500 people were arrested during the protests (a jury later convicted white former Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after he'd killed Floyd, a Black man, while on duty). Complaints were filed by 37 people alleging police misconduct over the course of the protests. Complaints included allegations of an officer using a white nationalist hand gesture, unnecessary use of tasers and mace and an officer intentionally breaking a protester's eye glasses, among other complaints.

According to the report, one man told the CCA that he was taking photos during a protest near Music Hall that May when a foam-marking round fired by police hit him in the eye, causing permanent vision damage. His complaint was not sustained because CCA was unable to prove who fired the round.

In total, 26% of all findings reached were sustained due to sufficient evidence of a policy, procedure or training violation, while 50% of findings were not sustained due to insufficient evidence. 11% of findings were exonerated and 13% were deemed unfounded.

The recommendations

The CCA made 10 recommendations to the Cincinnati Police Department as a result of its investigation:
  • Limit the use of mass arrests for non-violent offenders as a part of protest management.
  • Adopt a new policy to address the role of police in facilitating First Amendment expression.
  • Emphasize and strengthen “protest facilitation” models and approaches that deemphasize “disturbance control."
  • Require all officers using force to personally author and submit a separate use of force report that includes a narrative specifying the circumstances that preceded the use of force.
  • Formalize best practices emphasizing the important role of body-worn-cameras during police crowd control.
  • Provide training to all officers regarding criminal offenses that are most likely to apply should arrests become necessary during protest activity.
  • Review its process for documenting the specific officers who arrested persons during mass arrest scenarios.
  • Provide training on the First Amendment to officers and supervisors, including training addressing the scope of protected activity, scenario-based training, and instruction addressing implicit and explicit viewpoint bias or discrimination.
  • Review its policies and procedures on the duty to render medical aid.
  • Strengthen official officer manual language to state that officers shall not discourage any person from making a complaint.

Gabrial Davis, the director of the CCA, told CityBeat that there is nothing in Article 28 – which is the codification of the Collaborative Agreement, a set of police-community relationship values outlined between the Cincinnati Police Department, Cincinnati Black United Front, American Civil Liberties Union and community members in 2002 – that would require the city to adopt the recommendations, but he hopes they will be considered.

“It is our hope that they’re taken seriously, that they’re adopted. We expect to have a set of conversations with the police department about the recommendations,” Davis said. “The first recommendation in the report – that the department significantly limit the use of mass arrests for non-violent offenders as a part of protest management – I think that, to me, stands out as perhaps being the most important."

Demonstrators join the Cincinnati Black Lives Matter march and rally in June 2020 to protest the death of George Floyd and others at the hands of police. - Photo: Nick Swartsell
Photo: Nick Swartsell
Demonstrators join the Cincinnati Black Lives Matter march and rally in June 2020 to protest the death of George Floyd and others at the hands of police.

Pushback from the police union

One person who doesn’t expect to be invited to the conversation about recommendations is Dan Hils, the officer-elected president of the Fraternal Order of Police, CPD’s police union. He told CityBeat that he thinks the recommendations are “garbage," especially the recommendation on mass arrests.

“I think the CCA’s recommendations against mass arrests is insane. I think that we knew ANTIFA was here, we knew people were here to cause trouble, to cause damage, to cause violence, and the best way to deal with it was mass arrests,” he said. “We should be commended for their actions through the George Floyd arrests and not criticized and told they should be going in a whole ‘nother direction, so I believe the report was garbage.”

When asked what evidence Hils had that there were ANTIFA (decentralized anti-fascist, anti-racist) agitators at the Cincinnati protests, he said the department's intelligence units were tracking protestors on social media who he said were “definitely ANTIFA affiliated.”

“I don’t think ANTIFA goes about its business in formal matters – they’re terrorists,” he said. “But our intelligence units were picking up on communications, social media and otherwise, that there were people that were coming to town with the intentions for doing wrong and some of those were definitely ANTIFA affiliated.”

Hils also took issue with CCA’s recommendation to the department to better facilitate First Amendment expression, saying the department did just that during the summer 2020 protests.

“Why is it that a government entity wants to try and tear down the tremendous efforts and work of CPD that made us safer and kept us from going into full-fledged rioting? We never once stopped the ability for people to facilitate their First Amendment rights,” he said. “The CCA is greatly offended because I said ‘garbage!’ Garbage is not a dangerous word, it’s an opinion.”

Davis, who said the report also commends the actions of most officers during the protests, said Dan Hils did not represent all CPD officers.

“I don’t know that Dan Hils speaks for all police officers, certainly even most police officers,” Davis said. “We, in fact, commend the police department and most officers. In fact, we say in cases where there’s sufficient evidence to answer the allegations brought by citizens, the evidence tends to indicate the officers did not violate policy.”

Davis will meet with leadership from CPD later in March to discuss implementing the recommendations.

Read the full report with recommendations from the CCA to CPD below:

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