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Ohio FOP Chief Criticizes County Deputy Patrol Assistance

The Cincinnati Enquirer via NewsEdge Corporation

Having county deputies in OTR dangerous, he says
Cincinnati police don't want Hamilton County sheriff's deputies patrolling city streets for fear it would lead to Sheriff Simon Leis Jr. trying take over their territory, Commissioner Phil Heimlich said Thursday.

"I think there may be some concern by the Cincinnati officers this may be a step toward some countywide takeover of (policing) by the sheriff," Heimlich said. "That's not going to happen."

The leader of the Cincinnati police union doesn't want anyone but Cincinnati cops on city streets, but said it was out of concern for the safety of all officers as well as concern over future "metro policing" by Leis.

"Cincinnati police officers are very upset about any police agency patrolling anywhere in the city of Cincinnati because it infers they're not doing their job," said Sgt. Harry Roberts, head of the Fraternal Order of Police, Queen City Lodge No. 69.

Roberts said deputies are familiar with issues in the suburban townships they patrol and would be at a disadvantage if thrown into Over-the-Rhine. Undercover Cincinnati police officers also could be endangered, he said, if they were arrested by deputies who didn't know them and found a gun on them.

Leis informed Cincinnati Police Chief Tom Streicher on Monday that he wouldn't allow his deputies to form a joint task force with Cincinnati police to patrol Over-the-Rhine. Some business owners had asked for Leis' help. The sheriff's office said it is still considering patrolling the area without Cincinnati police.

"If that happens," Roberts said, "I would have no choice but to advise the members of our lodge who are working undercover to stay out of the area."

Over-the-Rhine business owners and residents say that, while Cincinnati police were doing a good job and crime was decreasing, even more officers are needed.

Streicher did not return calls Thursday. Leis, through a spokesman, also refused comment Thursday.

All three Hamilton County commissioners encouraged Leis to continue to plan to patrol Over-the-Rhine.

Leis told commissioners he needed an additional $500,000 from them for him to put 19 deputies on the street to patrol Over-the-Rhine seven days a week.

"There is no doubt the need is there. I still believe that there is great value to the sheriff" patrolling Over-the-Rhine, Commissioner Todd Portune said.

Portune hopes the traditional agreement that keeps Cincinnati police and Hamilton County's sheriff's deputies from patrolling the same areas goes away.

"I think they stay out of certain areas based on a gentleman's agreement, but the criminals aren't playing by gentlemen's agreements," Portune said.

The best way to handle the patrols is to have the two agencies team up and work together, Heimlich said, but that could mean deputies working under the dictates of the federal court-supervised Collaborative Agreement.

The agreement requires every Cincinnati police traffic stop to be recorded, additional training for officers and supervisors, different hiring and promotional policies and use-of-force policies.

Leis and the commissioners insist deputies should not - and will not - work under the agreement's policies.

"Under no circumstances do we want to do this in a way that would make us subject to filling out racial-profiling cards and those unnecessary rules and regulations," Heimlich said.

"The problem here is not with Cincinnati police. The Cincinnati police do an outstanding job."

Commissioners should stop playing politics with policing, Roberts said.

"They are using a perceived problem for their own political gain," Roberts said of the commissioners. "When you use the situation for individual political gain or individual advancement, that's wrong."

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