Federal judge agrees that city of Cincinnati violated agreement created in wake of riots four years ago to reform police procedures and improve relations with the black community.
The Associated Press
Cincinnati, OH - U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott issued her order Monday, saying city or police officials could be jailed or fined for future violations. Activists had accused city officials of failing to provide adequate access to people assigned to monitor the progress of reforms.
City and police officials signed an agreement almost three years ago that promised to change police policies through a cooperative effort with community leaders.
Mayor Charlie Luken said Dlott's ruling "risks the whole notion of a collaborative because it makes it a court case. Common sense is taking a hike on this one."
The agreement was prompted by three days of rioting in 2001 after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black man. The officer was later cleared of charges at trial.
The two sides were at odds several times last year, and the city admitted it had denied monitors access to police staff meetings and ride-alongs with officers. Police Chief Thomas Streicher Jr. also had one monitor escorted from police headquarters.
"This finding is not based on a minor technical violation," said Scott Greenwood, lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio. "This is about a fundamental breakdown _ or shutdown _ on the city's part."
But Luken said community activists who signed the original deal in 2002 have not held up their end of the bargain and have slowed progress. Streicher said Monday that he had not yet read Dlott's order, but he has said previously that the monitors failed to understand what police had to do to comply with the agreement.
The court-approved agreement was signed April 3, 2002, along with a companion agreement in which the U.S. Department of Justice is overseeing police reforms. Dlott's order reinforced the ruling of a federal magistrate in January.
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Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.