Saturday, February 26, 2005

Excuse for a Slowdown?

Harry Roberts, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, is advising his members to oppose the City's current contract proposal. A police slowdown (could we call it a brownout?) has been an on again off again element that the Cincinnati Police have been unofficially engaged in since not long after the April 2001 riots. Denials were always made, but their actions, or rather inactions, provided all of the evidence needed to illustrate a concerted effort to influence public opinion.

With this contract dispute, which seems to be an endless act of brinkmanship every year, will Roberts organize (by a wink and nod of course) yet another police slowdown to help twist the arm of city council? We are heading into campaign season, and crime will be a central issue for council, and especially the mayor's race. The PR minefield for the perceived anti-crime Democrats (Cranley and Pepper) who tend to get good conservative support might get tarnished if they are forced to battle the FOP and be seen as anti-police. That logically might make them more attractive to the liberals, but both crossed over the bridge of centrists and will have to pay a big toll to come back into the liberal camp.

The Cincinnati Post editorial page had similar concerns last month:
City officials, who have been trying to come up with a labor contract that avoids a confrontation with the police, filed an unfair labor practices complaint with the state over a published report that some officers are talking openly about launching a work slowdown if they don't like the deal. A slowdown would not be unprecedented, of course. After the 2001 riots some officers pretty much sat on their hands, particularly in Over-the-Rhine, which to this day remains the preferred shooting range for drug dealers.
Are we not talking about a form of extortion?

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