The press conference in October followed a well-worn script.
Community leaders and police gathered on the sturdy stone steps of City Hall, taking turns at a microphone, pleading with Clevelanders to abandon a code of silence. Once again, a child had been gunned down. This time, it was a first grader, who’d been sleeping when a torrent of bullets tore into a South Collinwood home. Six-year-old Lyric-Melodi Lawson’s life was cut short, senselessly, her blood spattered on the faces of other children sleeping around her. The community needed to step up and cast aside a “no snitch” rule, and work with the police.
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.
Three years after its failed bid at a merger with Cleveland, the poorest city in the state of Ohio ventures a comeback
EAST CLEVELAND — After dropping off a “wet one” (a man high on PCP) at University Hospitals Emergency Room, the ambulance pulled northeast onto Euclid Avenue near Cleveland’s border with East Cleveland. The mirror-finish of The Museum of Contemporary Art reflected trees in full summer bloom as the two East Cleveland firefighters made their way back to their engine house. They cruised by fast-casual restaurants in gleaming new buildings and the Case Western Reserve University Bookstore and the Cleveland Institute of Art building named for George Gund — the mid-20th-century Cleveland banker and philanthropist — before barreling under the concrete and wrought iron railroad bridge that separates Cleveland’s booming University Circle neighborhood from the broken-down streets of East Cleveland. “The scenery sure does change,” said Kyle Soca, the rookie piloting the squad, as the bridge shrank in the rearview mirror and the sidewalks became populated with boarded up storefronts and crumbling apartment buildings. State Sen. Kenny Yuko, who represents both sides of the bridge in the Ohio legislature, stated it more bluntly.