Cleveland police chief begins disciplinary hearings for officers involved in deadly chase on Friday

CLEVELAND - NewsChannel5 investigators learned that Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath will begin holding disciplinary hearings for officers involved in the Nov. 29 deadly chase Friday.

McGrath said his deputy chiefs will assist him with the hearings for 56 patrol officers found in violation of departmental rules and regulations for their roles in the chase. It is expected to take several weeks to complete the hearings.

Public Safety Director Martin Flask  has already held hearings for 19 patrol officers facing charges that could lead to a suspension of 10 days or more.

The charges against the officers involve insubordination, joining the chase without permission and falsifying duty records.

None of the violations are serious enough to warrant termination, said McGrath.

In June, one supervisor was fired, two were demoted and nine others suspended following disciplinary hearings about their involvement in the chase.

The Nov. 29 chase ended when 13 officers fired 137 shots at a car, killing Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, who were inside.

The chief said a recent policy change that forbids officers from firing at or from moving vehicles may not have prevented the shootout. The policy change was the result of a comprehensive study of Cleveland police policies and procedures in regard to use of force. The study found the department's policies are sound and comprehensive.

The county prosecutor is reviewing the shooting and is expected to present its finding to a grand jury this month.

Statistics show that from June 2006 until June 2013, use of force incidents by the Cleveland Police Department have declined.

As a result of the study, Chief McGrath plans to create a program to help any officer who was on an extended leave "assimilate" back into the department when they return. McGrath said the number of officers who have taken extended military leaves has increased since the start of the Iraq war.

McGrath also plans to make it easier to identify problem officers by creating a paperless system to monitor complaints and reports of worrisome behavior.

McGrath said the department will also change the way it trains supervisors starting in 2014. Supervisors will be separated from patrol officers during portions of their training and be given additional instruction on leadership and management practices.

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