Cincinnati's police oversight board on track to clear backlog within a year, even as complaints go up
Cincinnati’s independent police oversight board nearly doubled the number of completed investigations last year. The Citizen Complaint Authority has been digging out of a backlog of hundreds of cases for several years.
Director Gabe Davis told a Council committee Tuesday that’s despite an increase in complaints.
"I think that really required us to really press the gas more on the case completion side of things because we saw we were getting more complaints in 2022," Davis said.
Overall complaints went up about 12% compared to 2021. About half of those were eligible for a CCA investigation. These "serious complaints" are up 47%.
About a hundred cases older than 90 days are still open. That’s down from about 140 cases in August. Davis says the backlog should be clear by the end of the year, meaning all but the most complex investigations (like when officers discharge their weapon) will be complete within 90 days.
Davis says traffic stops were strongly correlated with serious complaints.
"Our mandate requires us to seek to understand what is driving complaints, and then to really try to identify patterns, root causes and really engage the community and the police department in an exercise to try to understand, how can we reduce these complaints?"
Davis is working on a report about traffic stops, as well as a full yearly report for 2022. The CCA is also expected to release a "patterns and recommendations" report for 2021, outlining the police department’s response to policy recommendations.
Iris Roley with the Black United Front says the public deserves more information about these policy recommendations.
"So that people believe that what we are investing in, what their tax dollars are investing in, is working to the greatest extent feasible," Roley said. "It's not perfect. I know it's gonna take some time; it's taken us this amount of time to get here. But I think we can do greater — far greater — than what we're doing now for the citizens of Cincinnati."
Davis says the CCA made 19 recommendations to CPD in 2022, but could not say how many of those were implemented because he says some are still under discussion. Davis says he meets with CPD and the City Manager's Office weekly.
The recommendations relate to disability and accessibility; mediation; clarifying limits on TASER withdrawal and pointing; establishing an anti-retaliation policy and interference with investigations; charging suspects in mental health crisis; arrest policy for pedestrian offenses; and disciplinary and corrective action.
See the full presentation below: