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.