Children are the future of Cincinnati’s collaborative agreement. That was a main theme coming out of a community policing roundtable Wednesday morning.
Leaders from across the city gathered to discuss what’s working and what needs improvement. They agreed the collaborative that came out of the 2001 riots remains a model for the nation, and kids needs to be included.
Iris Roley and others agree children are the missing piece. "People are clamoring to get what we have. So we don't have the opportunity at any point in our existence to mess it up. This is not for us, this is for the children," says Roley.
Several members pointed out that too many children are being arrested. And African American children are arrested in disproportionate numbers.
Rickell Howard with the Children's Law Center, Inc. says Hamilton County had higher juvenile arrest numbers than Franklin and Cuyahoga counties in 2013 and 2014. She also reports African American youths were nine times more likely to be arrested than their white peers.
Howard wants to bring a program called Strategies for Youth to Cincinnati. She says improving outcomes for juveniles is about training police and kids. She says kids sometimes wind up in trouble because of actions that are typical teen behaviors. She believes you have to reach kids in high school to educate them on how their actions might lead to arrest.
The next generation must also be brought into the process.
Pastor Ennis Tait is with Church of The Living God. He says, "If we don’t start preparing the next generation of leaders, they're not going to pick up this mantle. I’m talking about the 25 to 35-year-olds who don’t seem interested to pick up this work. If we don’t have people like us coming along, we’re going to see more problems. The further away our children are, the more problems we’re going to see."
Steve Sherman with the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission agrees. He says he used to part of the problem. "But I had great leaders to direct me," he says. Looking around the table at the group assembled, he says "These are the same people who brought me up and helped me change my life." Sherman says he falls into the age range that needs to "take up the mantle." He says that's what he's trying to do.
Members said repeatedly that problem solving is the way to reach these goals. They say that's how the collaborative was created and it's what makes the deal work.
Wednesday’s meeting was largely for stakeholders. Five meetings seeking public input will follow over the next few weeks.
· District 1 meeting: 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Jan. 11, Over-the-Rhine Recreation Center, 1715 Republic St.
· District 2 meeting: 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Jan. 25, Evanston Recreation Center, 3204 Woodburn Ave.
· District 3 meeting: 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Feb. 1, Westwood Town Hall, 3017 Harrison Ave.
· District 4 meeting: 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Feb. 8, Bond Hill Community Center, 1501 Elizabeth Place
· District 5 meeting: 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Feb. 22, College Hill Community Center, 5545 Belmont Ave.
Update 01/11 at 9:27 a.m.: Carla Guenthner, Chief Magistrate of Juvenile Court wrote to tell WVXU:
In your recent story titled "Focus on Kids Is Future of Collaborative Agreement," WVXU referenced a statement made by Rickell Howard of the Children's Law Center that the arrest rates for Hamilton County were higher than the arrest rates in Cuyahoga and Franklin Counties for 2013 and 2014. The Ohio Department of Youth Services is the repository for juvenile arrest data in Ohio. I think it is important to note that each county uses different methods for case and count assignment on complaint filings that influences counts for the juvenile arrest warrants in each jurisdiction. Additionally, the reporting of juvenile arrest warrant data from each local law enforcement agency varies greatly across the State of Ohio and within individual counties ranging from consistent reporting to no reporting to under-reporting. This obviously makes statewide comparisons on juvenile arrest complicated, challenging and even misleading.