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Should Cincinnati have private police officers?

A Cincinnati council committee continues a debate about whether the city's police chief should be able to commission private police officers.

It allows those individuals to perform special police duties and they typically work security details for businesses and organizations.

City administrations want to stop the practice because of liability concerns. They say the potential legal liability to the city outweighs any benefit associated with the limited number of private police commissioned by the chief.  The city also received a recent letter from the Hamilton County Prosecutor's office saying it will no longer prosecute crimes charged by city-commissioned private police officers unless a city officer is also present during the arrest.

Council member Kevin Flynn wants to end the private police.

"We want police officer that undergo our training, our continuing training," Flynn said.  "Are under our scope of authority, not an independent scope of authority."

Not all council members agree with Flynn. Yvette Simpson said she has a number of questions, and wonders if there are alternative proposals short of ending the private police commissions.

"I just have deep concerns about taking such an extreme measure without making sure we have the opportunity to really understand the impact," Simpson said.  "I'm not insensitive to the liability that the city might take on, but I'm also understanding the need for the service within the community.  I don't want to take that away either."

Council member Charlie Winburn calls the situation government over-reach.  He even suggested he might file a lawsuit against the city if the private police commissions end.

Right now the city has less than a dozen city commissioned private police officers.

Council's Law and Public Safety Committee will likely debate the issue again in two weeks.

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.