Cleveland’s small police departments comply with consent decree, but lack civilian oversight, commission analysis finds

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CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Cleveland Community Police Commission says nine small city police departments have mostly complied with changing their policies to adhere to its department’s city reform.

The Consent Executive Order between the city and the U.S. Department of Justice was established in 2015 to reform and shape Cleveland police policies and training. U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver is overseeing the case in federal court in Cleveland.

“They weren’t following the rules for constitutional policing,” commission co-chair Lewis Katz said of Cleveland officials. “They made these deals [with the smaller agencies], then they looked the other way. They weren’t going to do anything to enforce them.

In 2018, city officials approved nonbinding agreements with nine police departments that have arrest powers in Cleveland. They require departments to adopt similar or more restrictive policies on the use of force and vehicle pursuits. These departments include Cleveland State University and the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority.

Additionally, departmental officers are required to have the same or equivalent training as Cleveland officers. This includes training in the areas of use of force, crisis intervention, impartial policing, investigative stops, searches and arrests and must be in regular communication with local police. Cleveland for training and updates.

The Community Policing Commission attempted to initiate the analysis in 2020, but it says it did not receive cooperation from senior city officials, Katz said. In recent months, the commission has begun its work.

The commission’s compliance column focused on the department’s use of force policy, vehicle pursuit policy, training, and the department’s desire to establish a civilian review board.

The police departments involved in the analysis were Case Western Reserve University; Cleveland State University; Cuyahoga Community College; Cleveland Clinic Foundation; MétroSanté; University Hospital; University Circle; Cleveland Schools; and the Metropolitan Housing Authority.

The Case Western Police Unit was the only department found to be in full compliance. The other eight ministries were found to be partially compliant.

The analysis found that most departments were in partial compliance due to their failure to create civilian review boards. Commissions must review, investigate, and make findings when civilians file complaints against officers.

“I think the important thing at this stage is to make sure that complaints desks are properly set up and properly publicized within each department so that people who have complaints can raise them and have them properly heard. “, said Katz.

In 2020, ProPublica found that Cleveland private police departments targeted black drivers. The analysis showed that from January 2015 through September 2020, officers at the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, and University Circle disproportionately cited African Americans for nonviolent crimes.

Overall, the analysis showed that 90% of those charged by University Hospital and University Circle police were black, and nearly 7 out of 10 people charged by Cleveland Clinic police were black.

The police board’s analysis showed that police at the Cleveland Clinic did not follow training courses on community policing, investigative stops, searches and arrests. The department was partially compliant in bias-free policing.

Katz applauded the departments for following the majority of policies, and he said there was room for improvement.

“We were able to make judgments, and we did,” Katz said. “Overall, the departments are doing a good job.

Cleveland has the authority to grant or withdraw police powers to smaller departments operating in the city, and the city council can hold them accountable, according to the analysis.

“It was clear that Cleveland had given the nine private police departments the authority to police significant areas of the city, but they then failed to verify whether the nine police departments had fulfilled their responsibilities under the consent decree” , Katz said.

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