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FOP Will No Longer Participate In Collaborative Refresh

Cincinnati City Manager and others announcing plans to "refresh" the 2002 racial collaborative agreement.
Cincinnati City Manager and others announcing plans to "refresh" the 2002 racial collaborative agreement.

Update 07/26/17: The head of The Sentinel Police Association is taking issue with statements from Cincinnati FOP President Dan Hils and a vote Monday evening by FOP members to step away from the Collaborative agreement "refresh" underway in Cincinnati.

In a statement, Sentinel President Eddie Hawkins calls the vote "injury to insult" writing the "decision was made by a majority of members whom are retired and no longer put their lives on the line daily. Any officer can tell you the importance of community-police relations as it relates to officer safety."

The Sentinels is an organization representing African-American police officers.

"Collaborative policing has worked in Cincinnati and it is now in danger - all of us should be concerned - officers and citizens alike," Hawkins says.

Credit Facebook

Hawkins also takes umbridge with a Facebook post (at left) Hils directed toward Black Lives Matter and related groups.

"Crime, especially violent crime, is driven by opportunity and proximity - a fact that is true for all races. The perpetuation of this myth is what makes society look at black people as if they are violent criminals, which often affects the manner in which black people are policed, regardless of their education or profession," Hawkins writes.

Hawkins calls it absurd to tell black people not to be upset if they feel a shooting is unjustified because there are other unsolved crimes.

"As block officers we are caught in between being blue and being black. The fact is we are divided; not by race, but by right versus wrong, and what appears to be right for some is not necessarily right for others. Hils' comments ignore the plight and feelings of the black officers who he is supposed to serve."

Original Post: Members of the Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police have voted to no longer participate in the effort to "refresh" the city's historic collaborative policing agreement.

FOP President Dan Hils wrote about the decision in a letter released to media outlets Tuesday morning.

"The membership has been extremely disappointed with the attacks on Sgt. Heine by Mr. Gerhardstein and Ms. Roley," Hils wrote in the letter.

Hils said he supports the police department being involved in partnerships with the community.

"But you cannot ask the police, you cannot ask me to sit down in partnership with somebody who is not going to be reasonable, who is not going to be fair," Hils said.

Attorney Al Gerhardstein filed a complaint against Heine for her testimony during the second trial of former UC police officer Ray Tensing. A mistrial was declared after the jury could not reach a decision on murder and voluntary manslaughter charges for the shooting death of Sam DuBose during a 2015 traffic stop.

Heine drew criticism when she stated her opinion during cross-examination.  

As a lead investigator, Heine conducted Tensing's interview with Cincinnati police several days after the shooting. On the stand last month, she was asked by Tensing attorney Stew Mathews to give her opinion on what happened based on her initial interview.

"Based on my time and training with internal investigations," she testified, "I thought I was looking at an officer-involved shooting where his actions may be determined to be justified based on the events surrounding the actual shooting and taking into consideration the information about the prior conduct of Mr. DuBose and Officer Tensing."

The prosecution objected as Heine began that statement, and again after, but Hamilton County Judge Leslie Ghiz let it stand.

The police department review found Heine did nothing wrong when testifying. Cincinnati Police Capt. Jeffrey Butler said Heine did not violate police procedure.

Butler's investigation states, "Sergeant Heine had a legal obligation to answer the questions as presented per the rules of the court and the authority of the presiding judge."

It further concludes "the prosecution team was fully aware of these opinions prior to presenting Heine as a prosecution witness."

The city's Citizens Complaint Authority is also investigating.

Mayor John Cranley and others announced the collaborative refresh effort last month.

City leaders said at the time that while many reforms remain in place from the agreement, others have lapsed or been given less priority because of budget constraints and leadership changes in the police department.

The collaborative was negotiated in 2002 to settle several pending lawsuits against the city's police department alleging discrimination, racial profiling and excessive use of force.  

The collaborative involved several parties including the city, the U.S. Justice Department, the Fraternal Order of Police and community groups including what was then known at the Cincinnati Black United Front.

It followed the civil unrest in 2001 after a white city police officer shot an unarmed black man in Over-the-Rhine.  

The police department changed its use of force policies, began to document encounters with residents, setup an independent civilian review process, and launched community problem-oriented policing.

Saul Green, who was appointed by a federal court judge to monitor implementation of the intitial agreement, is being hired to assist with a review and refresh of the agreement. That monitoring ended in 2008.

A spokesperson for Mayor John Cranley said in a text message Tuesday the refresh effort will continue but the Mayor will not be issuing a formal statement on the FOP decision.

Attorney Al Gerhardstein said he was following the process laid out in the collaborative agreement for filing a complaint against a police officer.

"This is so much bigger than any one complaint against any one officer," Gerhardstein said. "We need the continued partnership of the FOP."

Meanwhile, the FOP membership approved a no-confidence vote in Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters. Hils said in his letter it was in response to the prosecutor's attack on Sgt. Heine and CPD Homicide.

In response, Deters says in a statement, "Despite the FOP vote, I remain committed to doing the best job I can do as the Hamilton County Prosecutor and I have full confidence in the Cincinnati Police Department."

WVXU's Tana Weingartner contributed to this story.

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