U.S. Justice Department holds community meeting looking into Cleveland police use of force

CLEVELAND - Inside a church off East 87th Street and Quincy Avenue Tuesday night, U.S. Justice Department officials met with community members as they continue their investigation into whether Cleveland Police engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive force.

It's an investigation that began in March and has included other community meetings like this.

U.S. Attorney Steve Dettelbach told the crowd of more than 100 people that filled the church pews that he would be passing the collection plate this night. What he was looking for from the audience was not money but the currency prosecutors deal in --information.

Dettelbach asked the audience to not hold back and to come forward with stories, evidence and first-hand accounts that would help them in their investigation.

More than 20 people lined up to speak, most expressing their opinions on the department and some offering examples.

"I honestly don't know what's going on in Cleveland," said Wanda Thurmond, who recently moved back to Cleveland after serving in the military and attended the meeting out of curiosity.

"So it was interesting to me to find out how so many people have ill feelings toward the Cleveland Police Department," she said.

While stories were shared, Geraldine Glover said she worried whether the information would go anywhere.

"They want to hear stories you can hear stories forever OK so it's like an action plan," she said. "You eventually say how do I implement this, who follows up with it, who has the accountability? I don't hear any of that."

State Senator Shirley Smith said it's key for the people to feel a part of this process.

"They don't think that the right persons are listening. They don't think that the actions are being taken to deal with the problems that they think they're having or that we are having," she said. "We are having some problems here in Cleveland that need to be dealt with."

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