As Cleveland police now talk of expanding their community policing efforts to comply with federally mandated reforms, the Northeast Ohio Media Group took a look at what can be learned from Cincinnati’s program. In May, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch chose Cincinnati as the place to kick off a national tour highlighting community policing. “This program is one of the ones we consider to be a leader in the efforts to bring policing into the 21st century,” she said.
Cincinnati has 50 officers dedicated to community-oriented policing duties. That nearly matches the number of Cleveland officers with similar responsibilities, though Cincinnati has about 100,000 fewer residents and its police department has 500 fewer officers. At the heart of Cincinnati’s efforts is the Quality of Life Enhancement Team. The 10 officers immerse themselves in the city’s 52 neighborhoods, going to community meetings and routinely walking the streets to talk with residents and business owners. The interactions give officers a deeper understanding of the issues each neighborhood faces and allow the officers to better identify potential trouble spots, said Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell. “You have to deal with root causation [of crime], and the only way you can get to the root is through relationships with people,” he said.