Listening to Cincinnati City Council discuss cuts in police must sound something like the meetings in New Orleans when they decided to cut back on maintenance of the levies. The difference is that Cincinnati already had its crime Katrina — and some council members still don’t get it.
They argue that Cincinnati police levels are high compared to cities such as Indianapolis or Louisville. But those cities did not have riots in 2001 that triggered an explosion in drug crime and street violence.
In the years after the riots, homicides nearly tripled. Nearly all of the victims were young black men shot by young black men. Nearly all of the deaths have been drug-related. This year’s total of 60 homicides — including four in the past four days – is down from last year’s total of 73 in early December, according to a report in The Cincinnati Enquirer.
Police have been gradually putting a lid on the murder jar, pushing the death epidemic back. So what a great time to reduce police, stretch the manpower thinner, reduce patrols and thin out the ranks of white hats.
At least, that’s what some on City Council are talking about.
There is plenty of adipose spending to trim before cutting cops. Council could start by eliminating the redundant and useless Department of Environmental Quality that was created to save the planet from global warming. Now that leaked e-mails have exposed the lies behind climate change, City Hall should save energy by turning off the lights on the DEQ.
Don’t hold your carbon-polluted breath. But the decisions on budget cuts will tell us all a lot about what this council will look like and where it goes. Liberals/Democrats lost ground in the last election. They replaced David Crowley with Laure Quinlivan, but the Democratic Party’s decision to boot and ostracize Jeff Berding could come back to haunt them.
He has sided with fiscal conservatives — who may now have five votes: Berding, Leslie Ghiz, Chris Bortz, Chris Monzel and newcomer/returner Charlie Winburn, who is already working on his own list of budget cuts that will probably not please the big spenders.
The left end of council may be out in the cold — Roxanne Qualls, Laketa Cole, Quinlivan and Cecil Thomas.
Police Chief Tom Streicher has warned council that the cuts they are talking about — 112 officers — would be equivalent to wiping out an entire district. If that happens, the crime flood will surge back. And then we can thank the council members who ignored the weather report.