Analysis of DOJ "Voluntary" Agreement with Cincinnati Police For Victims of Reverse Discrimination
Simulation of DOJ Seal

The agreement almost seems reasonable, especially considering DOJ would have tied Cincinnati up in lawsuits for years if the city hadn't agreed to it!

Opinion and Analysis:  On April 12, 2002 the U.S. Department of Justice announced a "voluntary" agreement with Cincinnati which includes the expected, intrusive "racial data collection" provision.  But more on that later.

          Regarding the agreement in general:   It is a little dull, unless you've followed the 2001 race riots and the details of the "Cincinnati 15" (the deaths of 15 black males at the hands of Cincinnati police since 1995).  In that context, the agreement becomes a little more interesting and almost seems, well, reasonable.

          On the surface, the DOJ - Cincinnati agreement is largely a laundry list of things the police did during the race riots of 2001, or which they did during the deaths of the 15 black men killed since 1995.   It is an agreement clearly designed to avoid getting too much egg on the faces of the rioters and on the faces of the police.  At the same time, it is designed to give both sides (the police vs. the rioters and their supporters) something to call a victory.

          The seemingly reasonable laundry list contained in the agreement includes rules and guidelines for improving or limiting the use of police tools and police techniques such as:

  • When and at whom to shoot bean bag rounds
  • When and at whom to spray chemical incapacitant (including separate rules for crowds vs. individuals)
  • At what part(s) of the body to spray chemical incapacitant
  • Use of force, including choke holds
  • How to keep suspects alive
  • Use of police dogs
  • Helpful hints and guidelines like trying to defuse a situation instead of resorting to deadly force

          The agreement seems sincere enough in its orientation to preventing the unnecessary deaths of suspects preceding, during, or following being taken into custody.  No one can possibly be opposed to that.   The DOJ-Cinci agreement also includes helpful pointers such as don’t hold a victim face down too long, especially if you’ve just sprayed him in the face with a chemical.  (Two of the "Cincinnati 15" died suddenly after being taken into custody.)

          DOJ estimates that it will cost Cincinnati something like $1.5 million per year to abide by this "voluntary" agreement, in addition to an initial outlay of $3 million to $ 7 million dollars by Cincinnati.  (DOJ has generously offered "technical assistance" in helping Cincinnati locate funding, for which Cincinnati will be exclusively responsible.)

Racial Data Collection Provisions:  DOJ specifies that enormous amounts of data are to be collected to allow tracking of "trends" in police encounters with Cincinnati’s citizens.

          But unlike other DOJ agreements with other police departments (eg., Montgomery County, Maryland) this agreement only once mentions the collection of data pertaining to race, ethnicity or national origin one time!  Even then it is presented parenthetically, almost in an "oh, by the way" manner. This occurs at paragraph 59 of the Cincinnati agreement:

Para. 59:  "The new risk management system will include, for the incidents included in the database, appropriate identifying information for each involved officer (e.g., name, badge number, shift and supervisor) and civilian (e.g., race, ethnicity or national origin)."

          "Civil Rights" is mentioned substantively only once in the entire agreement, and that is cited in paragraph 57 of the agreement:

Para. 57:  "The CPD (Cincinnati Police Department) will enhance and expand its risk management system to include a new computerized relational database for maintaining, integrating, and retrieving data necessary for supervision and management of the CPD. Priority will be given to the CPD obtaining any established program and system. The CPD will regularly use this data to promote civil rights and best police practices; to manage risk and liability; and to evaluate the performance of CPD officers across all ranks, units and shifts."  [Emphasis added.]

          BY CONTRAST, the "voluntary" agreement DOJ entered with Montgomery County, Maryland (under the then nominal leadership of the DOJ Office of Civil Rights' Mr. Bill Lann Lee):

  • Mentions race, color, ethnicity or national origin specifically and substantively 19 times!
  • Mentions "civil rights" substantively NOT AT ALL! (The term is used several times: once in citing the Civil Rights Act, and several times in identifying the office at DOJ)

          The difference between the two agreements is even more striking because the Montgomery County Agreement is very narrowly tailored to deal only with traffic stops, whereas the Cincinnati agreement encompasses virtually all official police conduct and interaction with the citizens.

          Thus, John Ashcroft's agreement with Cincinnati appears to downplay racial data collection while Janet Reno's agreement with Montgomery County went way overboard to emphasize race, color, ethnicity and national origin (19 separate times!).

DOJ - Cincinnati Agreement
Encompassing ALL police work

(Signed April 2002 - Under Ass't Attorney General for Civil Rights, Mr. Ralph F. Boyd, Jr.)
DOJ - Montgomery County, MD Agreement
Encompassing ONLY traffic stops

(Signed January 2000 - Under nominal Ass't Attorney General for Civil Rights, Mr. Bill Lann Lee)
1 mention Race, color, ethnicity, national origin 19 mentions Race, color, ethnicity, national origin
1 mention Civil rights 0 mentions Civil rights

Conclusion:  There remains a grave danger that requiring the deployment of a massive race-based police database in Cincinnati, DOJ may actually be encouraging an unintended result.  Police officers may well be intimidated into ignoring crime by protected races (blacks, Hispanics).  After all, why should the officers risk their careers over a charge of "racial profiling"?  Police work is risky enough as it is without all the politically-correct racial overtones.

          If it does turn out that, as a result of this agreement, the Cincinnati police begin to ignore crimes committed by protected races (blacks, Hispanics) then the NAACP will proudly announce that crime by blacks in Cincinnati has dropped when in fact only the enforcement of laws against protected races will have declined.

          On the other hand, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, with his Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Mr. Ralph F. Boyd, Jr., seem to have taken pains to de-emphasize the importance of race, color, ethnicity and national origin in this agreement -- at least in comparison to their predecessors from Clinton's Justice Department.  One could interpret this as a signal that this Justice Department is more interested in color-blind law enforcement than were their predecessors.

          But the racial data collection requirement -- however de-emphasized it might appear to be -- is still quite troubling.  

-- Tim Fay

The author is a small business owner and a student of the disparate impact of race-based law enforcement and employment policies upon non-protected racial groups, such as descendants of European-Americans.  Mr. Fay is also the Chairman and Founder of Adversity.Net, Inc. which is dedicated to educating our citizens about the disparate impact of so-called "racially sensitive" policies on non-preferred racial groups.  Mr. Fay's e-mail address is

Links and Resources

Full Text of DOJ Agreement with Cincinnati (PDF format):  DOJ-Cinci Agreement (PDF)

DOJ Agreement with Montgomery County (Web format):  Montgomery County Agreement (Web format)

SUMMARY (Press Release):  DOJ Agreement with Cincinnati (Web format)

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