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Community created the Collaborative Agreement and that's where its future lies, advocate says

smiling woman in red shirt with black, red and green jacket.
Iris Roley

Over 3,500 Cincinnati community members helped create the Collaborative Agreement 20 years ago, and it's where the fuel for continued improvements at the police department lie.

Longtime community leader Iris Roley says seven public sessions are designed to recap the history of the agreement, inform the public about policing, and invite feedback about how to improve services.

The first session is Tuesday from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Price Hill Recreation Center. It focuses on Cincinnati Police youth services, like cadet training and school resource officer programs.

The Collaborative Agreement

Roley is also the project manager for the Black United Front, and was hired by the city as the sustainability coordinator to consult on issues related to the Collaborative Agreement in February.

She's been a part of laying the groundwork of the agreement since 2001, when more than a dozen Black men were killed by police, sparking civil unrest in the city. That includes Timothy Thomas, who was shot and killed by police while fleeing from them. An officer at the scene said he believed Thomas was reaching for a gun, but no weapon was ever found. Other acts of racial profiling also prompted the class action civil suit.

Advocates like Roley pushed for systemic policing reforms, which federal courts mandated. Some of those reforms include the creation of the Citizen Complaint Authority, which has subpoena power, and data driven initiatives.

Roley says the ultimate goal is for the Cincinnati Police Department to be the best in the country.

"What that means for me is that you don't have a segment of people feeling like they are being over-policed or occupied by the police department that they pay to service them — but that they feel like other people in the community who feel like police is a service that they pay for and should be only utilized when called or when needed," she said. "And not that they should fear, and not that they should run from, and not that they can't ask a question or expect good customer service."

The other workshops and community conversations are scheduled as follows:

  • 6:30-8 p.m. June 1 at Lincoln Recreation Center
  • 6:30-8 p.m. June 22 at Hirsch Recreation Center
  • 10-11:30 a.m. July 9 at Price Hill Recreation Center 
  • 6:30-8 p.m. Aug. 3 at Bush Recreation center
  • 6:30-8 p.m. Aug. 24 at Hirsch Recreation Center. 

For more information about how to register for the events,fill out this form.

Jolene Almendarez is the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants who came to San Antonio in the 1960s. She was raised in a military family and has always called the city home. She studied journalism at San Antonio College and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Public Communications from the University of Alaska Anchorage. She's been a reporter in San Antonio and Castroville, Texas, and in Syracuse and Ithaca, New York.