Cincinnati Law and Public Safety Committee votes to repeal private police law

CINCINNATI — Cincinnati City Council’s Law and Public Safety Committee voted Monday to repeal a law that’s been on the books for decades that allows the city to hire private police officers.

After its fourth meeting on issue, which arose earlier this year after a Hamilton County prosecutor said he was not going to prosecute those arrested by private officers, the committee voted 3-1 to repeal it. Only Councilman Charlie Winburn voted against the repeal.

Since 1983, the city law has allowed Cincinnati’s police chief to grant specially-trained citizens full police powers, including the ability to make arrests. Businesses and organizations have used private officers — who receive Cincinnati police training — to provide security at various venues including the Ensemble Theater, the Regional Chamber of Commerce, Avondale Town Center and some apartment complexes.

There are two groups that employ the private officers: Cincinnati Special Police and the Cincinnati’s Private Police Association. Combined, they employ 10 people — seven of whom are commissioned officers.

The vote is expected go to council for a full vote on Wednesday.

At issue is concern raised by the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office that private officers do not receive adequate training and some have made erroneous errors on reports.

Hamilton County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Richard G. Gibson wrote a letter sent to the county’s clerk of courts in January outlining his concerns, which sparked the debate. In part the letter stated:

“We have recently had criminal complaints signed, and arrest and investigation reports completed by such officers which were legally erroneous, factually deficient, and almost completely unintelligible.”

Read More