On April 20, I received a public records request from a local TV media outlet asking for information about all fatal police shootings in Colerain Township since the 2001 riots.
Of particular note was this TV media outlet’s request for the race of those involved. While we have had two officer-involved shootings since 2001, none have resulted in any fatalities.
Not having any information to send, I felt it was important to share our use of force statistics. I sent information that informed this media outlet that during this same time period, the Colerain Police Department had approximately 750,000 citizen contacts resulting in only 186 uses of force; that’s .02 percent. I asked that this information be included in any article written that discussed the use of force by area police departments.
On June 10, this same TV media outlet (and the same reporter who made the initial records request) ran a story on police use of force since 2001. Oddly, our statistics were not shared with the readers. This information would have been just as easy to obtain from each department as the data they actually ended up using in their story.
I am left to speculate as to why this important information was not included, but I feel it is important that our citizens have a clear picture of the facts.
The Colerain Police Department’s statistics are not an anomaly. Every police agency, including the Cincinnati Police Department, uses force in just an infinitesimal fraction of the contacts we have with citizens. Television, movies, and unfortunately now some in the media, would have you believe that using force is frequent and your police officers are out of control. That is simply not the case.
The officers who patrol our streets and confront the dangers in our community are just like you, they are human beings. There have no desire to become involved in a life or death encounter where we may, and often do, lose our lives. The goal of the overwhelming percentage of police officers across the United States is to return home safely to their families after making their community a little safer each day.
It is unfortunate that the focus and drive today is on creating unrest and distrust. When those who are tasked with impartially informing us of the facts ignore them to serve an agenda, police departments must find a new way of communicating with the public.
Police officers make mistakes, there is no denying that. When any officer purposefully violates the rights of another or commits a crime, every good police officer is angry. We are angry because the deliberate acts of a few impact the reputation of the other 800,000 brave police officers who patrol our streets.
The citizens of Colerain Township, the City of Cincinnati and each community in Hamilton County are served by outstanding police departments who serve honorably and work hard every day to make their communities safer.
That is the true picture of policing in our community.