Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil says planning is already underway to ensure safety and security for everyone during the upcoming retrial of former UC police officer Ray Tensing.
Neil and Major Charmaine McGuffey outlined a few details during a news conference Thursday awarding challenge coins to members of the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission (CHRC) for their efforts throughout the first trial.
No trial-related arrests were made during the entire trial, according to Neil. "The main reason why there were no major incidents is because of the community ambassadors and the wonderful, God-sent work that they do for us in our communities."
Earlier in the week, Neil awarded challenge coins to members of the Cincinnati bike patrol for their efforts as well.
Ray Tensing is scheduled to stand trial May 25 for the shooting death of Sam DuBose during a July 2015 off-campus traffic stop. The first trial ended in a hung jury in November 2016.
McGuffey says the Sheriff's Department will do many things the same. "We collaborate with the community. We advocate for peaceful protests. People who want to come down to the courthouse and have their voices heard are certainly welcome to do so. Certainly, we will reduplicate our efforts with security, and that's for the safety of anyone and everyone that's in this downtown area."
When asked about concerns about warmer weather and kids being out of school during the retrial, Neil said, "The timing is concerning." However, he continued, "We'll continue with our collaborations with the community and other agencies as well. We've been preparing ever since the incident that brought this matter to the surface and there's no reason to deviate from what we're doing, but we're adding partners."
Neil says an additional member, Major Walt Hendrick, has been added to the command staff too.
Pastor Peterson Mingo says the CHRC's specially-trained Community Outreach Advocates are preparing as well. "I don't believe anything is building but there's still a lot of expectancy. A lot of people are upset. There's still some who are confused as to what happened, what the process will be at the next trial. Our job is just to do what we do, try to make sure that the public is safe. Those who come out to peacefully demonstrate, those who come out, basically, just to see what's going on should not be in danger of being assaulted by anyone."
Community outreach worker Rashid Abdullah agrees. "We don't want angry, frustrated young people to go to jail... because of an emotional outburst, a momentary outburst. That's what we're out there for. We're trying to keep people from getting hurt, keep the streets safe, and make sure people don't go to jail."
The CHRC's Community Outreach Advocates program grew out of the Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV). At least one member was working each day of the trial.
Mingo says the group needs more members in order to cover all of Cincinnati's 52 neighborhoods. He says there are currently eight full-time and four part-time workers.
"It's very hard for a dozen individuals to cover 52 neighborhoods successfully," he says. Right now, one Community Outreach Coordinator is assigned to each of the police department's five districts.