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Racial-profiling report withheld from the public

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Racial-profiling report withheld from the public

  • A federal judge ruled that all parties to a settlement with the City of Cincinnati must approve the release of a tax-funded study on racial profiling by police.

Oct. 9, 2003 — The Cincinnati City Council cannot disclose the results of a racial-profiling study, a federal trial judge ruled Monday, because the information is not the council’s sole property.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael R. Merz told the City Council’s Law and Public Safety Committee that the report cannot be released without the approval of all other parties to a 2002 settlement — commonly referred to as the collaborative agreement — with the city.

According to The Cincinnati Enquirer, the chairman of the Law and Public Safety Committee, Pat DeWine, argued that the public should have immediate access to the report because tax dollars were spent to collect the data.

“The collaborative should not be used to insulate important information from the public,” said DeWine, in an Oct. 7 story in the Enquirer. “The police have been collecting this data for too long without there being a public discussion about the value of it.”

The report is the result of a study by University of Cincinnati researchers who examined 50,000 contact cards from six months of traffic stops in 2001. Their goal was to determine whether or not Cincinnati police officers were targeting African-American motorists. Officers record in their contact cards the age, gender and race of every person they pull over.

The study was conducted in accordance with an April 2002 settlement between various civil rights groups and the City of Cincinnati. The groups had sued the city over police brutality against African-Americans.

The ACLU of Ohio and the Cincinnati Black United Front oppose the release of the report, arguing that they need more time to review its content. Scott Greenwood, general counsel of the ACLU of Ohio, says the study is still too unpolished and complex to be released to the public.

“I don’t want it to come out until it’s done,” said Greenwood, “and until the parties present it as their work that they can fully support.”

In his ruling, Judge Merz said the report cannot be released for at least 45 more days.

(In Re-Cincinnati Policing, et al v. et al; Counsel: Alan Freeman, Washington, D.C.) VR

© 2003 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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