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City at ‘critical stage’ under consent decree

Cleveland police
Posted at 5:24 PM, Dec 02, 2021

CLEVELAND — As he prepares to leave office, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said Thursday he’s not sure how much longer the city’s police department will remain under federal monitoring.

“We don’t have a time period, but we know it’s going to take some time,” said Jackson.

The city and US Department of Justice entered into a consent decree in May 2015 after federal investigators found Cleveland police engaged in a pattern and practice of using excessive force and that issues within the department contributed to that practice.

Six and a half years later the city’s consent decree implementation coordinator said Cleveland is entering a “critical stage.”

“We’re moving from the issue of policy development and training and all those things, into an area of assessment,” said Greg White.

White said that assessment will largely rely on data that will show the monitoring team how well officers are implementing the reforms.

Already, White said, there are signs of progress comparing data from 2019 to 2020.

“Firearm pointing for instance was down 34%,” said White. He said use of force by police also dropped during the same period, while the use of de-escalation techniques by officers rose from 89 in 2019 to 172 incidents last year.

Under the terms of the consent decree, Cleveland must be substantially compliant with all expectations and remain complaint for two years.

While the mayor said it’s too soon to know how long that could take, he stressed speed isn’t the goal.

“Our goal was never to get out from under the consent decree to check a box and say we’ve done that,” said Jackson. “Our goal…is to create and institutionalize a culture that will be sustainable when there is no more monitor.”