CINCINNATI (WKRC) – Cincinnati Police officers used force more than three times as often against Black suspects as opposed to white suspects in the last three years, according to a new report released Thursday from Accountable Now and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
According to the study, which used data obtained from Cincinnati’s data portal, about 73% of use of force incidents between 2017-2019 were against Blacks, while about 24% were against whites. The city’s population is only 42 percent Black.
Iris Roley with the Black United Front was a key member in creating the city's initial collaborative agreement following the 2001 riots that led to such data being collected. She's disappointed but not surprised by the latest findings.
"It makes me feel that we still have a long way to go,” she said. “But it also allows us to know that there's clear opportunity to address it in a real tangible way so that we get tangible results."
The data shows overall incidents are dropping year over year, from 413 in 2017 to just 320 in 2019.
Fifty percent of use of force incidents in Indianapolis involved Black suspects. Its overall population is 30% Black. In Seattle, use of force incidents were 35% against Blacks. Seattle's Black population is7%.
The numbers were 85% for use of force incidents against Blacks in Baltimore, where the Black population is 62%.
The data does not compare use of force incidents to overall arrests. Those numbers were not readily available Thursday.
Bree Spencer, policing program manager with the Leadership Conference, says the report is meant to shine a light on use of force and highlight areas where such data isn't available.
"We have over 18,000 police jurisdictions in the United States and its territories, and we have police using use of force against members of the public every day and no comprehensive way to track it," Spencer said. "We know our communities are safe when they're healthy, well-resourced and thriving. And communities cannot be healthy, well-resourced and thriving if they are overpoliced and if they experience consistent use of force from police.”
Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac is out of town and referred comment to the city manager's office. Chief of Staff Kelly Carr sent this statement:
"Cincinnati’s use-of-force incidents are on a three-year decline and are documented as some of the lowest numbers in the country because the City remains committed to continuous improvement in bias free policing, the improvement of community-police relations, and to building a more fair and equitable public safety system."
Dan Hils, president of Cincinnati's police union, texted this statement:
"Use of force data is reflective of violent crime statistics. Unfortunately, these studies seem designed to paint police as biased. That leads to less proactive policing, which leads to higher crime rates in already troubled areas."
Roley says the city deserves credit for making the data readily available.
"It just needs to grow further and ensure that communities can read the data, that you don't have to be a coder or a data analytics guy," she said.