Misdemeanor Arrests in Cincinnati
It may not work for other cities, but the program put in place in Cincinnati appears to be a successful, if challenging approach to addressing hostility between citizens and police, and reform of the criminal justice system:
Looking back, the results of Cincinnati’s reform efforts are startling. Between 1999 and 2014, Cincinnati saw a 69 percent reduction in police use-of-force incidents, a 42 percent reduction in citizen complaints and a 56 percent reduction in citizen injuries during encounters with police, according to a report by Robin S. Engel and M. Murat Ozer of the Institute of Crime Science at the University of Cincinnati. Violent crimes dropped from a high of 4,137 in the year after the riots, to 2,352 last year. Misdemeanor arrests dropped from 41,708 in 2000 to 17,913 last year.The whole article is worth reading. Considering the skepticism shown by all involved parties at the beginning of the initiative, it is amazing the program is now being held up as an example for places like Cleveland, Baltimore and St. Louis County.
Yet it might not be so simple to adopt Cincinnati’s changes in other cities. It took a long time—five to ten years, by some counts—to get police to actually buy into the reforms. Nobody likes it when somebody comes into their workplace and tells them how to do their job. The changes Cincinnati adopted were nothing short of a complete turnaround in how the city approached incarceration, crime and its relationship with its residents. And to make sure they were adopted, the federal government had to apply constant pressure, reminding all parties involved about the need to stay vigilant about reform.
“In the early 2000s and late 90s, Cincinnati was just a hotbed of problems, and we got the city and the police department to agree to certain reforms,” said Mike Brickner, senior policy director with the ACLU of Ohio, which sued the city shortly before the riots over discriminatory policing practices. “It’s gratifying for me to see that people are coming back several years later and recognizing how successful it was.”