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Cranley Praises Police Officers During State Of City Address

Casey Weldon
City of Cincinnati
Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley giving his State of the City Address at Music Hall.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley used part of his State of the City address Tuesday night to honor police officers and other first responders for their actions on Sept. 6 during the deadly shooting at the Fifth Third Center on Fountain Square.
Cranley delivered his speech to a packed room at Music Hall.

Cranley honored police officers Jennifer Chilton, Antonio Etter, Eric Kaminsky and police specialist Gregory Toyeas as Cincinnatians of the Year. They engaged the shooter in the Fifth Third lobby soon after arriving on the scene and ended the threat.

The mayor showed part of the video from the body camera worn by officer Chilton during his speech.

"In that video you can see the gunman shooting at the cops, and them not being afraid and engaging to end it," Cranley said in prepared remarks. "As you see the woman emerge, you can feel the fear in her eyes as she comes from underneath the desk in the lobby, followed by a sense of gratitude that the cavalry had arrived."

Cranley also praised 911 operator Kathy Malone for her role in comforting Bella Herron, who reported the gunman while hiding in the nearby Graeter's bathroom.

Three people -- Luis Calderon, Prudhui Raj Kandepi and Richard Newcomer -- were killed in the violence.  Whitney Austin and Brian Sarver were severely injured and are now recovering.

Whitney Austin was featured in a video during Cranley's speech. She was unable to attend because of another operation as part of her recovery.

Cranley praised Austin for turning her personal tragedy into advocacy to reduce gun violence.

"Some people shouldn't have guns and no other first-world nation has our kind of gun violence, so let's put ideology last and human life first by passing common sense gun safety legislation," he said. 

Cranley also spoke of another shooting in the West End nine days before the Fountain Square incident.  Cranley said during that shooting, two of three people shot were innocent victims who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. He recognized victims Paul Coats and Mary Pritchett.

"We should all be as outraged by the shooting of Mr. Coats and Ms. Pritchett as we are about Whitney Austin and Brian Sarver, who were innocent shooting victims on Fountain Square that survived," Cranley said.

The mayor also recognized Ron and Jill Plush, who's son Kyle died in a school parking lot in April after getting trapped in a minivan.  Kyle called 911 twice for help but police officers did not locate him. His father found him about six hours after Kyle's first 911 call.

Cranley said the incident exposed several problems and errors in the city's emergency communications system.

"Despite dealing with tragedy, Ron and Jill Plush have and will continue to push us to fix this, to make sure it never happens again," Cranley said.  "They have been the epitome of grace and they have demanded that we honestly assess our failures."

Cranley began his address praising nearly all city departments for their work for city residents. He specifically talked about fire, police, public services, economic development, water works, Metropolitan Sewer District, finance and budget, parks, recreation, transportation and health.

The mayor highlighted efforts to increase the number of city contracts being awarded to minority and women-owned businesses. He said in 2013, $4 million worth of contracts were given to African American-owned business, and that number grew to $11 million in 2017. He called that progress but said there is more work to do.

Cranley praised acting city manager Patrick Duhaney and the work he's done since taking over in April.  There was no mention of the weeks-long drama and turmoil earlier this year surrounding the resignation of previous city manager Harry Black. He resigned in April just minutes before city council was to vote on beginning the process to fire him.

"A combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, Patrick Duhaney has been the epitome of a servant leader and somebody who has the highest standards of honesty and integrity," Cranley said.

Cranley focused attention on his effort to reduce child poverty in the city. A collaborative of people has been focusing on the issue for the last three years. He said the effort is designed to tackle the problem in a different way.

"Help directly rather than indirectly those working their way out of poverty," Cranley said. "To the extent possible, incorporate actual employers and employee-based help to be sure that people have actual jobs."

Cranley said the goal is to assist at least 5,000 families and 10,000 children over the next five years.

The mayor praised major neighborhood improvement efforts underway in Bond Hill, Price Hill, Pleasant Ridge, Westwood, and Avondale. He also mentioned the FC Cincinnati stadium coming to the West End, and thanked council members David Mann, Amy Murray, Jeff Pastor, Christopher Smitherman and P.G. Sittenfeld for voting to support that project.

The mayor also unveiled a new effort to increase sustainability and reduce the city's carbon footprint.

The city will establish the Cincinnati 2030 District, made up of property owners who voluntarily commit to reduce their buildings' energy and water use and transportation emissions by 50 percent by the year 2030.

Cranley said Kroger has agreed to be a founding member of this district.

The mayor ended his speech by again asking residents to give back to the city. Last year, he asked people to give one hour a month for community service week.

A volunteer service determined that last year's total was 167,000 hours, which was higher than the mayor's goal of 100,000 hours. For the coming years, he's increased the number to 250,000 hours.