Yesterday, we quoted Cincinnati insiders, including Mayor Mark Mallory, about their experiences

Yesterday, we quoted Cincinnati insiders, including Mayor Mark Mallory, about their experiences with police reforms brought by the Department of Justice. They poo poohed the idea that an outside monitor was akin to a “shadow mayor” or “shadow chief.” Then, we heard from preceding mayor Charlie Luken.Yes, Luken says, monitor Saul Green was not a shadow anything. He did not try to take over either the police department or the city. But the former mayor describes the first few years of Green’s oversight, when Luken was in office, as “one hell of a battle” and “the toughest time of my life.” Given that the 60-year-old Luken served in Congress and as a newscaster as well as in City Hall for twelve years, that’s saying something. He says a mutual contempt quickly developed between Green and the police command staff. Green, a former U.S. attorney who lived in Detroit (and someone The Seattle Times has speculated might be a candidate for monitor here), may not have been physically present all that often. But, Luken says,members of Green’s team would descend upon police headquarters for a week or two at a time. “They would expect full access and full attention,” Luken says. “The police chief threw them out. He said: ‘I can’t do my job. All I do is respond to their questions.'” (Green declined a SW request for an interview.)According to Luken, Green would also tell police command staff how to handle certain things–not day-to-day crimes or hiring decisions but, for instance, how to deal with mentally ill suspects. And, in the early days, Green’s reports were sometimes brutally negative, according to Luken. The former mayor says resentful police responded with a slow down. Crime shot up.Luken heard calls for his resignation on right-wing and African American radio stations alike. He says he was exhausted by 2005, when he decided not to run for office again. Given all that, it makes perfect sense why our mayor would resist a monitor. Mike McGinn’s approval ratings are already embarrassingly low. Ongoing confrontations at police headquarters won’t help him any. Luken nevertheless says that for Cincinnati, the ordeal “was worth it.” The city could not go on as it was, with relations between the police department and the minority community so toxic that riots followed a police shooting in 2001. The former mayor says the DOJ–and a corresponding lawsuit by the ACLU and another civic group–brought needed reforms, including mental health training for all new officers. But if anybody thinks the process is easy, Luken adds, “they’re nuts.”


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

Auburn police officer Jeffrey Nelson. File photo.
Auburn police officer’s story conflicts with eyewitness account

Jeffrey Nelson faces trial in the killing of Jesse Sarey.

The former Econo Lodge in Kent is a King County Isolation and Quarantine Facility for COVID-19 patients. FILE PHOTO, Kent Reporter
Man dies at Kent COVID-19 isolation and quarantine facility

Found dead in room at former hotel during routine medical staff check

t
Inquest hearing for Kent man fatally shot by Seattle Police set for March

Four officers to testify in April 2017 shooting that killed Damarius Butts, 19

Seattle East DDC facility front (Photo by Cameron Sheppard/Sound Publishing)
Seattle East DDC facility front (Photo by Cameron Sheppard/Sound Publishing)
U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene urges Postmaster General to reconsider closing Eastside mail facility

Workers at the East DDC in Redmond are concerned about how the closure would impact mail service.

K9 Beny stands before the 75 pounds of pills found in a vehicle on Jan. 14. Photo courtesy of the California Highway Patrol
Federal Way woman arrested in record-setting fentanyl bust in California

Driver and passenger found transporting $3M worth of pills.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-WA, who pushed for broadband funding in Washington schools. (Screenshot from murray.senate.gov)
American Rescue Plan Act funding approved for broadband investments in WA schools

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray pushed for the funding, which will benefit several King County school districts.

Courtesy photo
State offers free at-home COVID-19 tests

You can order the tests through the state’s new online portal.

Sen. Mona Das, D-47
Kent Democratic Sen. Mona Das proposes 1% cut in state sales tax

Starting in 2023; Republicans voice support for Senate Bill 5932

tsr
Federal Way police arrest suspect in fatal carjacking

35-year-old Tacoma man charged with murder in “random, brutal and senseless carjacking,” prosecutors say.

Most Read