In 2001, when a Cincinnati police officer shot and killed an unarmed man in a decrepit, dangerous part of town, he was the 15th black man to die at the hands of police in five years, says the Washington Post. The city erupted in three days of burning and looting, followed by a federal intervention and promises to improve relations between police and black residents. Last month, when two police officers shot Donyale Rowe to death after they had pulled him over for changing lanes without signaling, Cincinnati's police chief named the officers and published their performance reviews, described how Rowe had pulled a gun on the cops and released video of the incident from the squad car's camera. The shooting resulted in minimal news coverage and no rioting. Leaders of the 2001 protests said the police had apparently acted appropriately.
Cincinnati police, black ministers and civic leaders have spent the past few weeks in close contact with residents and police in Ferguson, Mo., advising them about how a city can try to repair relations with black citizens. Thirteen years after riots that threatened to wreck Cincinnati's reputation and economy, many say the police have become gentler, smarter, more transparent and more targeted in how they go after bad guys. As Ferguson face a federal investigation of their police practices, mistrust of police in Cincinnati, even after full-scale retraining and a 120-point catalogue of altered procedures, remains palpable in black neighborhoods.