What is my number one budget priority? Making sure that our police and fire are adequately staffed, equipped, and funded.
I announced my campaign for City Council in December 2020, at the Cincinnati Fire Fighters Union Hall, IAFF Local 48. I was surprised and honored to receive their first endorsement for City Council. The Firefighters had my back, because they know I have theirs.
Cincinnati must focus on balancing its budget while prioritizing basic public services. There is no service more basic than keeping the citizens of Cincinnati safe. In order to keep our citizens safe, we need strong 21st-century police and fire departments.
We must not forget where the city was and how far we have come. Cincinnati’s police department went through a re-organization toward community-oriented policing after the problems we experienced in the 1990s. Many of the police reforms Cincinnati put in place are reforms that other cities across the country are just now starting to implement. When I joined city Council in 2013, the police were, all too often, operating at "code zero," which meant there were not even enough officers available to handle calls for service. The complement of police officers was well below authorized strength because City Council delayed and canceled police recruit classes. Once again, City Council has allowed the complement of officers to drop below 1,000. One of the accomplishments I am most proud of from my prior service on City Council is that we immediately hired more police and fire staff. I have no doubt that this has saved lives and enhanced overall safety in the City of Cincinnati.
While I served as Vice Chair of the Law and Public Safety Committee, the police instituted their first body camera program. I attended, at my own expense, the International Association of Police Chiefs convention with a delegation from the Cincinnati Police Department, to determine which type of body camera to purchase for the city. Our city led the way, not just in deploying body cameras, but in having a well thought-out and developed program for their utilization.
We must, as a city, prioritize public safety in our budget spending. If our city is not safe, or if there is a perception that it is not safe, people will stop moving back to the city and businesses will cease to invest in it. We must update and refresh the Cincinnati collaborative agreement on policing, invest in shot spotter technology, and continue to engage in data-driven, proactive, 21st-century policing.
Prior to my joining Council, Cincinnati fire companies were "browned out" because there were not enough firefighters to staff the trucks. We immediately brought in more firefighters, and through my efforts, we were able to equip the department with bulletproof vests after a firefighter was hit in the helmet with a bullet. In 2021 and beyond, we must stop delaying firefighting recruit classes. As firefighters retire, we are requiring more of our existing complement of firefighters to work overtime to staff our fire companies 24/7.
On February 22, 2002, the Cincinnati Fire Department saved my life after I was involved in a horrific car crash. Minutes mattered then, minutes matter now. No one understands that better than me.