Cincy mayor: Democrats’ responsibility for urban police issues? “Great question” — and watch me dodge it

You bet it’s a great question, but John Cranley goes far out of his way to avoid it. Jake Tapper posed the challenge near the end of this CNN interview last night about the true responsibility for policing issues in cities Democrats have controlled for decades, which the mayor of Cincinnati called a “great question.”

Did Cranley give a “great answer”? He didn’t give any answer at all, actually:

TAPPER: Mr. Mayor, let me ask you. Democrats on Capitol Hill are calling for reforms. But most of the cities where these troubling incidents of police brutality have happened are cities run by Democrats. Now, I know you personally found your local Innocence Project. You have been active for years in trying to right injustices caused by the judicial system. But where have other Democratic mayors been on this problem that’s been going on for decades, if not centuries?

CRANLEY: Well, Jake, it’s a great question, and I appreciate your acknowledgment of The Innocence Project, where we have gotten innocent people out of prison in Ohio, over 30 people. Look, Cincinnati was helped enormously by a Justice Department that took civil rights seriously. And this was not a left-wing group. It was John Ashcroft who was the attorney when we negotiated our group — when we negotiated changes in 2002, when I was a young city councilman.

And I happen to believe that, if you look at the long history of civil rights, it has already required a strong federal role for protection of the constitutional rights guaranteed by the 14th Amendment and the Bill of Rights, et cetera. And it would be nice if the Justice Department would again look to work — and we call ours the collaborative agreement. And it was endorsed by our Fraternal Order of Police when it was adopted, and it is still supported. And so it was a collaborative process. But having the Justice Department actively involved made a really big difference. Going forward, I think, candidly, it would help a lot of Democratic mayors around the country.

To the extent that this is even an answer, it’s nonsense. The Department of Justice does not have responsibility or authority over local police departments, except in consent-decree settlements over lawsuits stemming from abuses — and those are also a failure of local government and mayors. Mayors and city councils have primary authority over local law enforcement. It’s one of their most basic functions.

The reason Cranley won’t answer Tapper’s exact question is because there is no answer other than an admission of failure.Democrats have controlled almost all of America’s big and medium-sized cities for decades, and have produced failure in policing — and education, and service delivery, and so on. What they have produced are massive public-employee-union contracts and a perpetual-motion re-election system that have left cities bankrupt and services unaccountable.

Tapper also hits on that topic as well, at least in terms of police unions, throughout the interview with Baltimore police commissioner Michael Harrison:

TAPPER: And, Commissioner, let me ask you. Obviously, police have collective bargaining rights, like any other group of people who work for the government, whether it’s teachers or anyone. Do you think police unions do more harm than good?

HARRISON: Well, I don’t know that (AUDIO GAP) the answer it that they do more harm than good. But there are certainly agreements in those contracts that prohibit police chiefs from taking swift, certain and decisive action when certain things come to our attention in the form of bad behavior by police officers.

Okay, but who negotiated those contracts? The cities negotiated those contracts, meaning that Democrats who run the cities cut those deals. They gave unions what they wanted in order to secure their own political power. And it worked out well … for Democratic politicians.

Cranley’s right about one thing. This is a “great question,” and Tapper shouldn’t be the only journalist asking it.

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