The Cincinnati Collaborative Executive Summary

The Collaborative Process

The six-stage Cincinnati collaborative process began with a focus on goal-setting about future relations between police and community in Cincinnati. The process was facilitated by The ARIA Group, Inc., with the active involvement of leaders from stakeholding groups to validate, monitor and champion the process. An advisory group consisting of representatives of The Black United Front, The ACLU, the Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police and the City Administration, provided input and advice during the collaborative process. Judge Susan Dlott, of the U.S. Federal Court, oversaw the collaborative. Jay Rothman, Ph.D., president of The ARIA Group, was appointed Judge Dlott's Special Master to conduct this process.

Stage One: "Cincinnati Sings" (May 1, 2001 - July 1, 2001)

The project began with a broad public awareness campaign and an emphasis on outreach and relationship building with the media, as well as coordination with other similar efforts. The campaign was designed to explain the process of gathering visions from all sectors of Cincinnati for a better future for police-community relations and, more generally, race relations.

Stage Two: "Getting Out The Voice" (June 1 - August 31, 2001)

Information about goals was gathered by asking the following questions:

1) What are your goals for future police-community relations in Cincinnati?

2) Why are these goals important to you? (What experiences, values, beliefs
     feelings influence your goals?)

3) How do you think your goals could be best achieved? (The more specific
    your suggestions, the better.)

Responses were gathered through web-based on-line questionnaires, paper and pencil questionnaires and interviews. Individual identities and identifiers remained confidential. The ARIA Group gathered thousands of citizen responses, which were analyzed and organized for presentation to feedback groups.

The ARIA Group launched this process on June 25th with a pilot group consisting of leaders of social service and religious organizations. Concurrently, work began to reach out to youth, particularly African-American youth and young adults, to encourage their early and positive engagement in this process. Also concurrently, a research process was launched, guided by University of Cincinnati Professor John Eck, for collecting current and best police practice data from around the country.

Stage Three: "Shared Visions" (July - November 2001)

Representatives from each of the eight stakeholding group participated in one scheduled feedback session. Approximately10-25% of those responding from each stakeholding group participated in separate four-hour feedback sessions.

Feedback sessions consisted of carefully facilitated small-group discussions regarding people's motivations and values. A staff of some 30 volunteer facilitator/interviewers expertly guided this process. As part of the feedback sessions, these facilitated dialogue groups enabled participants an opportunity to express deeply held feelings and find resonance with others in their group, as well as provide an underlying value basis for constructive steps for addressing the broader issues of race and police-community relations. (For more information on the ARIA Group's approach to addressing identity-based conflicts, see

Following the small sessions, each group was provided with a set of shared goals compiled from the ARIA Group's analysis of their group's questionnaire responses. Representatives from each group then negotiated and reached agreement on their group's goals.

As of November 2001, the ARIA Group had reached the end of the first half of the Cincinnati Collaborative Process work-plan. In those months, The Aria Group generated a collaborative dynamic to begin transforming the crisis of police-community relations - that came to a head with the riots in April - into an opportunity for positive change and improved relationships. From June through October, data was collected by questionnaire from more than 3,500 people representing all segments of the community, including: African Americans, white citizens, leaders of religious organizations and social service agencies, business leaders and foundation professionals, educators, youth, police and their families, city leadership and other minority persons.

Stage Four: Integration (November - December 2001)

After the feedback and dialogue process had been completed with each stakeholding group, ARIA Group produced a set of shared goals, as well as summaries of value statements and motivations across all the groups. The sixty selected representatives met in early December as the Integration Group to review, prioritize and comment on the goals from all stakeholding groups. The ARIA Group presented this shared set of prioritized goals, motivations and suggestions, along with the information on best practices gathered by the Police Practices and Model Programs Research Group, to the Settlement group, which overwhelmingly affirmed them.

The Integration Group was comprised of five to ten representatives from each of the stakeholding groups. The role of this group was to review the goals from all stakeholding groups and reach agreement on them (see following five project-level goals).

First Goal: Police Officers and Community Members Will Become Proactive Partners in Community Problem Solving

Second Goal: Second Goal: Build Relationships of Respect, Cooperation and Trust Within and Between Police and Communities

Third Goal: Improve Education, Oversight, Monitoring, Hiring Practices and Accountability of CPD

Fourth Goal: Ensure Fair, Equitable, and Courteous Treatment for All

Fifth Goal: Create Methods to Establish the Public's Understanding of Police Policies and Procedures and Recognition of Exceptional Service in an Effort to Foster Support for the Police

The ARIA Group merged these goals and the information on best practices gathered by its research team and presented this material to the settlement group to serve as the basis for their collaborative settlement negotiations.

The stage was then set for developing a collaborative settlement outside of the courtroom. The work remaining looked like this:

Stage Five: Negotiation (January 2002-April 2002)

Facilitated by ARIA, the Settlement Group, consisting of the parties to the proposed lawsuit, engaged in intensive work on negotiating a Collaborative Settlement Agreement. See the full agreement Here.

Stage Six: Approval and Implementation (April 2002-August 2002)

Once successful agreement was reached in the negotiations, the Settlement Group submitted the Collaborative Settlement Agreement to the Federal Court for approval. In addition, it started working with the stakeholder group representatives and coordinating with other local efforts to bring the settlement agreement back to the various stakeholders for implementation at both administrative and grassroots levels.

Through the participation of the 3500 citizens of Cincinnati in the collaborative process, with all of this input and tremendous source of creative ideas and commitment, the foundation was laid for forging a long-term and participatory process to promote constructive and grassroots-directed development aimed at improving quality of life for all those who live and work in the city of Cincinnati. This participation was rewarded on August 5th 2002, when Federal Judge Susan Dlott approved and signed the Cincinnati Police-Community Relations Collaborative Settlement Agreement.