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Collaboration, Transparency and Accountability: The Pillars of Collaborative Community and Police Relations

Across the U.S., civic unrest resulting from racism and social injustices has amplified the urgent need for reform in how we enforce the laws in place to protect our communities. Calfee has unique experience, connections and strengths to help guide communities and their police departments to bring about meaningful, sustainable change. Calfee is fortunate to have Senior Counsel for Government Relations Charlie Luken on our team. Luken, who served as Mayor of Cincinnati from 1983 to 1991 and from 1999 to 2005, led the community through four days of violent protests in 2001 that resulted in more than 950 arrests and an estimated $5 million in damages to businesses and the city. The 2001 civil unrest followed the shooting death of a young, unarmed Black man and the perception that the police department’s policies encouraged a pattern of racial profiling.

Within days following the start of the protests and violence, then-Mayor Luken requested that the U.S. Justice Department review the policies and practices of the Cincinnati Police Department. That review resulted in the Cincinnati Collaborative Agreement, which detailed a comprehensive revision to police policies and practices that has since been used as a national model for community engagement in policing. In fact, the Collaborative Agreement has been a reference for local and state officials and policy makers seeking a way forward from the turmoil we currently face. For 14 years as mayor, Luken presided over a city with a police force of approximately 1,000 officers and enacted successful and long-lasting improvements to police-community relations.

Luken’s philosophy of listening to all stakeholders to address social injustice as a community through transparency and accountability has proven sustainable and successful. To that end, Calfee is offering municipalities and their law enforcement agencies the opportunity for an advisory engagement built around Luken’s significant, direct experience with bringing together a community damaged by the perception of racial inequity in law enforcement.

Luken, who also served as Congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1991 to 1993, understands connection points between local, state and federal governments, business communities and civic leaders. He is uniquely qualified to help clients successfully navigate these difficult circumstances to arrive at sustainable, actionable solutions.

How We Can Help

Luken can provide a unique and invaluable perspective to assist municipalities and communities in creating a sustainable collaborative model. Luken’s consultative service would include a comprehensive review of practices and policies to create outcomes informed by all stakeholders and built upon the three pillars of effective law enforcement: collaboration, transparency and accountability. In addition, Luken’s collaborative strategy encompasses the importance of economic equity and revitalization of high-crime and under-utilized residential and commercial neighborhoods through creative, cooperative economic development programs.

Michael Bowen is an Associate in the firm’s Government Relations and Legislation practice and Litigation practice groups. Prior to practicing law, Michael spent five years working in the public sector, eventually working his way up to the Executive Assistant to the Mayor in the City of Lakewood, Ohio. While there, Michael became Six Sigma certified and focused on creating efficiencies in all City departments and gained an in-depth understanding of best practices used in public safety. Bringing a decade of experience, Bowen’s knowledge of the political process, including serving as the campaign manager for the reelection of Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson for an unprecedented fourth term, enables him to advise clients at the local and state levels of government.


U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” Rankings

Calfee was selected for inclusion in the 2023 "Best Law Firms" rankings by U.S. News – Best Lawyers in Government Relations Practice (Regional Tier 1 Columbus, Regional Tier 2 Cincinnati).


Calfee Strategic Solutions, LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP. Calfee Strategic Solutions is not a law firm and is not authorized to engage in the practice of law. Accordingly, its advice should not be regarded as legal advice, and its services should not be considered the practice of law.




  • Analysis of stakeholder positions
  • Assessment of current policies
  • Identification of objectives
  • Recommendation of a sustainable collaborative model for your community
  • Development of measurable outcomes
  • Communications support including communication strategy development, crisis communications and planning, and executive communications
  • Media relations

What Others Say

What Others Say

The Atlantic says, ““One of the few big-city mayors to survive a major episode of civil unrest is Charlie Luken of Cincinnati…. The riots cost millions and devastated the city’s Over-the-Rhine district. Several months later, however, Luken was reelected. He oversaw a process of police reform that is now hailed a model for other cities.”

Luken also knows how to rebuild following transformative moments like those we are experiencing now. A Politico article describes the impact that Cincinnati City Center Development Corp. (3CDC), the urban development initiative Luken helped create following the 2001 civil unrest, had on Cincinnati’s once-troubled Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. “It’s a transformation that’s happened in a blink of an eye, turning a neighborhood that in 2009 topped Compton in Los Angeles for the ‘most dangerous’ title into something that looks and feels like Greenwich Village. And it didn’t happen by accident.” 

View the recording of the June 9th webinar featuring Charlie Luken and Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley

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“[Cincinnati’s] Collaborative Agreement [is] nationally recognized as a best-practice for police-community relations.”

Cincinnati Enquirer, column by Jason Williams, 06.09.2020

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