Al Jenkins outside of his Cleveland home. This project was funded by a grant from the Pulitzer Center and provided by Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism. Please join Eye on Ohio's free mailing list as this helps provide more public service reporting to the community. Al Jenkins has what neighbors called “the nicest house on the block.” The renovated historic structure has fresh gray paint and manicured landscaping. A side lawn looks like it also is his.
On Friday, Cincinnati City Councilmember Jeff Pastor introduced a motion to examine police practices after an investigation by the Ohio Center for Investigative Journalism, the Cincinnati Enquirer, and Stanford University's Big Local News program found that blacks and black neighborhoods were more likely to be traffic stop targets. Read the full story on the Cincinnati Enquirer's website. Investigation: Blacks, black neighborhoods most likely to be traffic stop targets in Ohio’s 3 biggest cities Sidebar: Can an officer's perception of you alter your ticket? Biracial man's 'white' tickets dismissed, 'black' tickets sustained Sidebar: Beleaguered Cincinnati agency probing stop complaints rarely faults cops Methodology and Caveats: See step by step how we calculated the results. Access the data: Stanford's Big Local News Project
Investigation: Blacks, black neighborhoods most likely to be traffic stop targets in Ohio’s 3 biggest cities
By Max Londberg and Lucia Walinchus
Video by Michael Nyerges
Reporters from the nonprofit newsroom Eye on Ohio, The Cincinnati Enquirer and researchers from Stanford University’s Big Local News program examined police stops to assess how the three largest communities in Ohio use public safety resources and to identify potential bias in policing. Followed in a public park and forced to leave. Cuffed and questioned for whistling while waiting for a bus. Pulled over for spending too much time at a gas station. Some black drivers and pedestrians in Cincinnati say they’ve been unfairly stopped and questioned by police.
“It seems to be if you are a minority, you’re a target and you’re automatically doing something wrong,” said Michelle Cameron, a black resident who lives in the Cincinnati neighborhood of Westwood.
Reporters from the nonprofit newsroom Eye on Ohio, The Cincinnati Enquirer and researchers from Stanford University’s Big Local News program examined police stops to assess how the three largest communities in Ohio use public safety resources and to identify possible bias in policing. Cincinnati, like all cities, has an imperfect policing record.
The landmark Collaborative Agreement aimed to improve police-community relations in the city amid rising tensions between police and black citizens. It has been touted as a national model of collaboration among police, city agencies and the community.
But a months-long traffic stop analysis has raised new questions about the ongoing effectiveness of the agreement, finding a racial disparity in traffic stops made by Cincinnati police officers. The findings, along with similar ones in Cleveland and Columbus, are being published alongside new information detailing delays and understaffing at the independent agency charged with investigating accusations of police bias.
Certain police actions, such as pulling over a driver or issuing a ticket, are more likely to occur in predominantly black neighborhoods in Ohio’s three largest cities than in white ones. And black drivers are also much more likely to be pulled over than whites, according to a review of 315,281 stops from 2009-2017 in Cincinnati, 128,157 in Columbus from 2012 through 2016, and 47,079 in Cleveland in 2016 and 2017.
But the analysis also found that some disparities were likely the result of police practices versus outright discrimination.
Reporters compared police stops in census block groups that were at least 75% white and compared them to ones that were at least 75% African American.
After her son couldn’t qualify for a local Head Start program because of the family’s annual income, Lynsi McKinney needed new options. McKinney, a stay-at-home mom in Southeast Ohio, eventually connected with a private, Christian school for 4 and 5-year-olds. But the family felt squeezed by the hefty price tag. “If money wasn’t an issue, we would continue sending him to a private Christian school,” McKinney said. “We fell in love with the educational opportunities and with the Christian background.”
By the end of the first year, she was impressed by the progress her son was making — he was able to recognize every letter in the alphabet and had basic counting and geography skills.