After Riots Cincinnati Police a Changed Institution

April 4, 2011  |  

(USA Today) — When Timothy Thomas was shot by a Cincinnati police officer in April 2001, sparking riots in the city’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, officers only knew from a dispatcher that Thomas had more than a dozen warrants.  Today, they would know that the warrants were for minor infractions, things such as failure to wear a seat belt.  Also today, they could call for help from an officer specially trained in handling people with mental health problems. They carry Tasers to use as an alternative option to their guns. And they’re reminded of a new police department culture that stresses customer service as much as it does catching bad guys.  In the rioting that followed Thomas’ death, fires were set around Over-the-Rhine, a police officer was shot but unhurt when the bullet hit his belt buckle, and a citywide curfew was imposed — the first in more than 30 years.  The changes since Thomas’ death and the ensuing riots are many. The results have been dramatic.  In the six years before the riots, 15 men — all African-American — died in confrontations with police. In the last 10 years? Eight, six of them black.

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