What should U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott know before ruling on the collaborative agreement for reform of the Cincinnati Police Department?
Charles Tassell, President of Blue Chip Young Republicans
There are a couple of key facts that the judge needs to bear in mind about this controversial case: first and foremost is that it is baseless.
Second, bearing in mind the damage this case has done to Cincinnati and its police department, go after the lawyers who are lining their pockets to the tune of $600,000 and building name recognition to further their own business and political careers on a frivolous lawsuit.
Rewarding an ambulance chaser after neither winning nor proving a case is horrible policy. Instead, the attorneys worked on a settlement by fomenting public unrest: unrest that was supposedly the catalyst for settling the case. What a wonderful business plan: file a baseless suit, focus a PR campaign against weak elected officials and line your pockets as they rush to show their "sensitivity" and cave in. After all, it's not their money — at least not until campaign donations are received.
Then there is the issue of profiling. In considering racial profiling one must remember, "Only if the rate of stops or arrests greatly exceeds the rate of criminal behavior should our suspicions be raised," says Heather MacDonald in City Journal.
In the local lawsuit there were only a few anecdotal stories claiming profiling to excuse criminal behavior.
The suit completely lacked support data, such as statistical analysis or consistent evidence supporting the theory of profiling.
The interesting part though is that wherever studies have been performed by recognized entities — universities, or more recently, the attorney general of New Jersey — the results have shown that not only are blacks not profiled and therefore not receiving a higher number of violations than other groups; but the opposite was actually found. Blacks on the New Jersey Turnpike actually violated the law (speeding) at a higher rate than whites, yet received a lower percentage of citations than they should have.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) "studies" (performed for a specific agenda) fail to compare criminal activity with rates of arrest or violation. In other words, they only use raw population data, rather the number of actual violators — something that the New Jersey study utilized.
In considering this case, the judge needs to consider the baseless accusations of the case, the pandering and public relations damage committed by the lawyers involved and the fact that the police department was already moving forward with recommendations from the Justice Department. She should throw the case out.
Tom Beridon, Vice President of Hamilton County Young Democrats
The first thing to know is whether or not the collaborative agreement will actually address any of the issues it was meant to, or if meaningful resolution of the issues that brought it about will be overshadowed by bickering.
In order for a mediated settlement to work, all parties involved must have two things. The first is an agreement that all the parties can live with. They don't have to like all of it, but they must understand it and be satisfied with it. The second part is that all the parties must be accountable to the agreement.
Judge Dlott needs to know to what extent the parties involved are willing to be accountable. What do the Black United Front (BUF), the city and the ACLU want out of this agreement; and what are they willing to put into it?
Can conflicting political agendas be reconciled? Are any or all of these groups going to take any responsibility for making sure bickering and conflicting agendas don't derail the collaborative's intended purpose of restoring the trust between the police and the parties to this class action suit?
Judge Dlott has to know if the BUF is willing to go along with the racial profiling settlement. The BUF is complaining the city has yet to pay reasonable attorney fees for the plaintiffs' attorneys, and they have not yet come forward with how they intend to fund the Community Partnering Program.
Judge Dlott needs to know if the city has the funds, which the collaborative agreement estimates at $5 million for startups, to run the programs outlined by the agreement.
What Judge Dlott really needs to know is if the citizens of Cincinnati will see the collaborative Agreement as what it really is: a first step down a long and painful road of recovery for the city of Cincinnati and not a magical cure-all that will rid Cincinnati of its problems.
Monica R. Williams, Member of the Coalition for a Just Cincinnati
If I could speak to Judge Dlott directly, I would not speak to her as Monica R. Williams, a member of the Coalition for a Just Cincinnati.
Nor would I speak to her as Monica R. Williams, a member of the Cincinnati legal community. I would speak to her as Monica R. Williams, the African-American mother of five children. I would tell her that the fate of my children, my sons in particular, rests with her ruling.
I am certain that there are members of our community who believe that the collaborative Agreement, while not perfect, is certainly adequate. I am not of that opinion. However, I will not attempt to argue the merits of my reasoning; I will simply state for the record that my sons and daughters and the sons and daughters of everyone in this city, African-American and otherwise, deserve better than adequate. The premature deaths of so many young men cry from the grave for much more than adequate.
If we recall, the actions of an adequate police officer that was a member of an adequate police force sparked civil unrest in our city the likes of which had not been seen for many, many years. Therefore I refuse to be politically correct.
I cannot in good conscience exercise political expediency at the expense of the lives and liberty of my sons and daughters.
Finally, I would tell Judge Dlott that while my heart would like her to send the parties back to the table to draft an agreement that is more than adequate, my head knows that to do so would spell certain doom for the entire process.
Thus I would tell her to do everything within her power and the power of the federal court to make the current agreement as strong as it can possibly be. If that strength happens to come at the expense of the city of Cincinnati and its police force or any of the parties, then so be it.
Each month, CityBeat poses a question to young leaders in the local Democrat and Republican parties as well as a selected third party or independent activist.