Cincinnati police union backs suit's settlement
CINCINNATI, Ohio (CNN) -- A year after a white Cincinnati policeman killed an unarmed black man, sparking racial riots, the city's police union announced Monday it has ratified a tentative settlement in a lawsuit accusing officers of harassing blacks.
A black motorist filed the lawsuit in March 2001, accusing the city of discriminating against blacks and seeking a court order prohibiting racial profiling by police officers.
The city admitted no wrongdoing, and the police union denies allegations of racial profiling, Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police President Roger Webster said at a news conference Monday.
"This is not a racial profiling agreement," Webster said. "That was one of our big sticking points during the vote is that if we sign this agreement or if we agree to this agreement, we agree that we racially profile. We don't do it, and we never will."
Sixty-two percent of the police union's 1,020 members voted for the tentative agreement, and 38 percent opposed it, Webster said.
The shooting death of Timothy Thomas, 19, by Officer Stephen Roach, who was acquitted of all charges, occurred a few weeks after the lawsuit was filed last year and touched off three days of riots.
U.S. District Judge Susan Diott must approve the tentative settlement. The judge had ordered all parties to decide on the settlement by Tuesday.
The proposed agreement sets up a citizen complaint authority to investigate greviances against police, union attorney Don Hardin said. The new agency will handle duties now assigned to a city office and a civilian review panel.
Also under the agreement, the local American Civil Liberties Union and Black United Front will work with community groups to rectify alleged mistreatment of police officers by citizens, Hardin said.
In addition, citizens are asked to report not only complaints against police but also positive interactions, which will be kept on file, Webster said.
"The community also has to be involved in this agreement," he said.
As the result of a separate investigation, the U.S. Justice Department proposed changes in police training, record-keeping and other policies.
Although some of these suggestions are being addressed, the Fraternal Order of Police did not approve the Justice Department recommendations, which are appended to the proposed agreement, Hardin said.
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