by Nick Swartsell
Posted In: News
at 10:22 AM | Permalink
Cincinnati police to get body cameras; early streetcar pass available; Ark Park wants to correct "myths"
All right y’all. After a brief delay while I listened to a presentation about health insurance (as captivating as it sounds) I’m here with the news this morning. Cincinnati’s 600-strong uniformed police force will eventually be equipped with body cameras after a seven-month pilot program involving West Side officers wrapped up this week. The move comes as activists around the country call for more police accountability in the wake of recent police shootings of unarmed citizens. Cincinnati’s body camera program will cost anywhere from $500,000 to $2 million depending on which vendor the city chooses. Cincinnati City Council’s Law and Public Safety committee has pledged to help find funds, and Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffery Blackwell will be making a trip to Washington to ask the federal government for some of the money as well. Officers involved in the pilot program said the cameras they tested aren’t perfect and expressed concerns about privacy for victims of crime and whether what is filmed will end up as public record. Some activists around the country have called for federal rules requiring police wear body cameras, and President Barack Obama announced last week an plan to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to help equip police departments with the technology. Others, however, question the efficacy of the method, pointing to the death of Eric Garner, who died after being placed in a choke hold by police in July. The officer who placed Garner in a headlock was not indicted by a grand jury despite video footage of the incident.• Though the streetcar is months away from being operational, you can still give the transit fanatic (or skeptic) in your life a rail-themed Christmas gift. Starting today, SORTA is offering a commemorative early pass for the Cincinnati streetcar allowing unlimited rides for periods of time after the streetcar opens. You can get the $25 card for those members of your family who are afraid of downtown and with whom you argued about the streetcar this Thanksgiving. Maybe some free rides will change their minds. Or they’ll hate it and give it to you to use. Win-win. They, or you, will be able to ride cost-free for the first 15 days the streetcar is operating. You can step it up for the serious streetcar supporter and get the $50 or $100 cards, which give the recipient 30 and 60 days of fare-free riding, respectively. These are the first physical items issued to the public for the transit project, which I’m sure will be interesting to some folks.• Answers in Genesis, the religious group behind a controversial Noah’s Ark theme park in Grant County, Ky., has launched a billboard campaign it says seeks to correct “myths” about the project. The park has raised eyebrows because it could receive state tax credits even though its parent company makes its employees sign statements affirming their Christian religious beliefs. If the park did the same with prospective employees, it would not be eligible for help from the state. The state’s Tourism Development Finance Authority has preliminarily approved a 10-year tax incentive package for the park that could be worth up to $18 million on the $73 million project. National advocates for the separation of church and state have cried foul at the deal, saying it violates state and federal non-discrimination laws. The Ark group, however, says they’ll comply with those laws for the park. They’re fighting back with 16 billboards in Frankfort, Louisville and Lexington directing people to their website. They’ve also sprung for an electronic billboard ad running in New York City’s Times Square for some reason."With this new billboard campaign, the attention-grabbing wording will get people to visit our website, where they will discover the truth about our full-size Ark and learn how some intolerant people are trying to keep it from succeeding," the group said in an email news release. • The Ohio Board of Education will meet today and discuss eliminating rules that require public schools in Ohio to hire art and music teachers, librarians and other specialized staff. The so-called “5 of 8” rule could be on the chopping block because some local control advocates say it amounts to an unfunded mandate on local schools from the state. However, those who support the rule say it ensures that all schools have faculty who can teach vital subjects and perform other necessary duties. They say eliminating the rule will hurt low-income students, whose cash-strapped schools will be most likely to drop the positions. • State Rep. Alicia Reece formally introduced the so-called “John Crawford’s Law” yesterday, which would require toy guns to be brightly colored to distinguish them from real weapons. The bill aims to prevent police shootings like the one that happened in August at a Beavercreek Walmart, where Crawford was shot while holding a BB gun. More recently, Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old, was shot and killed for holding a toy pistol on a playground in Cleveland. In a puzzling addition, the law would also limit where a person can carry a BB gun, even though Ohio remains an open carry state where you can tote around your real gun almost anywhere you please.
0 Comments · Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig will be leaving Cincinnati to take a job in Detroit, city officials announced on May 14.
by Hannah McCartney
Posted In: Ethics
at 11:46 AM | Permalink
Two-year anniversary prompts inclusion of city of Cincinnati, three more CPD officers
Today marks the two-year anniversary of the death of David “Bones” Hebert, the gangly, inked vagabond, crafty burrito-maker, Punk rocker and rascal whose life ended abruptly one night in Northside, when Cincinnati Police Sergeant Andrew Mitchell fired two rounds into Bones’ thin frame. Bones, who was described by his army of acquaintances as peaceful and thoughtful, left behind a legacy that sparked his friends to form Friends of Bones, a collective formed in response to his fatal police shooting, whose goal is “to support those directly involved in the case, to raise awareness about police violence in our community, and to bring about policy change in police procedures, training, and equipment, while encouraging responsible city leadership.” That spurred the estate of David Paul Hebert to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Sergeant Mitchell on April 18, 2012, a year after the shooting. According to a press release from Paul Carmack, executor of the Hebert estate, the lawsuit today has been expanded to include the city of Cincinnati alleging Monell Claims (referring to municipal officials unconstitutionally or incorrectly dealing with a police misconduct claim) as well as Cincinnati Police officers Lawrence Johnson, Brian Kneller and Nicolino Stavale, for contributing to an atmosphere of danger. (See the expanded lawsuit in its entirety here.) Bones was walking his dog, Shady, with a female friend around 3 a.m. the night of his death. Minutes before, a new acquaintance of Bones, Jason Weller, called 911 to report a man described as Bones to have recently stolen a pirate sword from his apartment, leaving Weller bloodied and alone. Although several of his friends admit he was inclined toward rowdy and wreckless behavior when he was intoxicated, but not violent.Shortly after police stopped Bones and took his official statement, the police report alleges, “Mr. Hebert pulled a 13-inch switchblade knife with a six-inch blade from his pocket, raised his arm, and made a swiping motion with the knife at one of the officers. Sergeant Andrew Mitchell, who was serving as cover officer, drew his firearm as Mr. Hebert turned and stepped toward another officer. Sergeant Mitchell discharged two rounds from his Department-issued firearm, striking Mr. Hebert in left shoulder and left upper chest with both rounds.”Bones was pronounced dead at the scene, and a toxicology report showed he had a blood alcohol level of .33 and traces of psychedelic mushrooms and marijuana. The investigations following his death — all of which exonerated Mitchell and the Police Department from any fault — brought to light a slew of inconsistencies, including conflicting statements from the officers involved, details about where Bones' knife was ultimately found and discrepancies in Weller's story, all of which form a basis for the current lawsuit. Videos retrieved from a Officer Dawson's cruiser cam also show that officers stood by idly, failing to offer any sort of assistance of resuscitation to Bones, seen here (at the 0:04 second mark, it appears Officer Mitchell kicks Bones' arm to check for consciousness). Officer Mitchell in 2008 was involved in another police misconduct allegation after the "Bauer Tasing," when he tased an oblivious teenager from his moving police car without any warning or communication. Christopher Bauer, the teen walking home with his hands in his pockets and listening to his iPod, fell forward onto his face, suffering substantial injury. In the past, Friends of Bones have held fundraisers and community events (often music-oriented, for Bones) to raise awareness about the case and garner support. A city spokesperson directed CityBeat's inquiry about the expanded lawsuit to the city's law department, which as of Thursday afternoon had not returned a voicemail. This story will be updated if the city provides a response.According to court documents, the case will go before a jury Nov. 11.
by German Lopez
Event to explain CPD priorities, establish line with gay community
The city and gay rights organizations will host an LGBT
public safety forum tonight. The partnership between the city of
Cincinnati, Equality Cincinnati and the Human Rights Campaign of Greater
Cincinnati (HRC) is meant to encourage and improve relations between
the Cincinnati Police Department (CPD) and the gay community.
Lisa Davis, spokesperson for CPD, says the idea for
the public forum came about when Andrew Winters, a diversity co-chair at
HRC, ran into Police Chief James Craig at the Coffee Emporium coffee shop in Over-the-Rhine. Winters
introduced himself to Craig, and Craig told Winters he was interested in
addressing the LGBT community to open some dialogue and gather
One of the forum's purposes will be to explain CPD priorities. As an example, Davis explained why police might take
an hour and a half to respond to a call at a gay club. She
said that kind of delay is likely related to CPD's priority system. In the example of the gay club, perhaps someone was assaulted, but the suspect already left. If that
happens, CPD would prioritize a case in which a suspect is still on the
Davis hopes the explanations will ease concerns of police
discrimination in the LGBT community. On the other side, she says the forum could help
CPD gather feedback and learn about any overlooked problems.
CPD will also name Angela Vance as an LGBT liaison.
Davis says Vance will be open to calls from anyone in the LGBT community
to look into special events, collect information on crimes and review
possible cases of police mistreatment. For these cases, Vance will help
victims file complaints and provide guidance.
The public forum will take place at 6 p.m. tonight at the
Mayerson Room in the School for Creative and Performing Arts, 108 West
Questions linger in police shooting death of local musician
4 Comments · Wednesday, May 4, 2011
The Cincinnati Police Department's account of the deadly shooting of David "Bones" Hebert on the morning of April 18 raises numerous questions for Hebert's roomate and other friends. Moreover, it differs sharply from comments made to some of them by Hebert’s female companion at the scene that night. The woman, whose name hasn’t been released by police, has retained a Blue Ash attorney and declined any public comment.
Meetings will review how police spends its budget
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 13, 2011
An area civic group will launch a series of public meetings this week to examine the city of Cincinnati’s ever-growing Police Department budget and help residents make informed decisions about whether some cuts can be made. When the process is complete, the group will present its findings in a formal brief to the city manager’s office and City Council this fall.
Some police use weapons on nonviolent suspects
3 Comments · Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Local attorney Al Gerhardstein is concerned about the training and policies of law enforcement agencies regarding the justification and constitutionality of Taser use on nonviolent suspects.
Local number of cases lower than in comparable cities
0 Comments · Wednesday, June 30, 2010
The last decade has seen the repeal of Article 12 and adoption of the Human Rights Ordinance, both huge victories for Cincinnati's LGBTQ community. But since Article 12's repeal in 2004, Cincinnati Police have processed just seven hate crime charges based on sexual orientation, compared to 19 in Columbus in 2007 alone. Local gay rights advocates say the incidents are being under-reported or under-pursued by police.
1 Comment · Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Cincinnati neighborhoods could use more businesses like Milton's Prospect Hill Tavern. The watering hole, located roughly where Mount Auburn touches Over-the-Rhine, usually features an interesting cross-section of customers: young and old, black and white, straight and gay. In short, its crowd is often a microcosm of the city. But twice during the span of a week, on May 25 and May 31, the bar was robbed while it was open. Frustrated with the lackluster police response, Milton's owner is holding a fundraiser June 28 to help pay for security upgrades like indoor video cameras, increased outdoor lighting and fencing to enclose a patio area.
0 Comments · Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Police expert John Linder issued a report to then-Mayor Charlie Luken in 2005 after interviewing Cincinnati Police Department employees and finding that officers didn't trust their supervisors to treat them fairly. CityBeat's Kevin Osborne might be the main reason its findings aren't completely forgotten, as he's written about department turmoil numerous times after discovering that few City Council members have ever seen the Linder Report and no one seems very interested in tracking down a copy.