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City council approves new Cleveland Community Police Commission

Cleveland City Hall
Posted at 9:31 PM, Dec 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-05 23:10:42-05

CLEVELAND — During its meeting Monday night, Cleveland City Council approved a resolution appointing 13 individuals to its Community Police Commission.

Each member will serve either a two-year or four-year term that was randomly selected. The following nominees were appointed:

  • Dr. John Adams, 4-year term
  • Shandra Benito, 2-year term
  • James M. Chura, 4-year term
  • Charles Donaldson Jr., 4-year term
  • Pastor Kyle Earley, 2-year term
  • Alana Garrett-Ferguson, 4-year term 
  • Cait Kennedy, 2-year term
  • Gregory Reaves, 2-year term
  • Jan Ridgeway, 4-year term
  • Piet van Lier, 4-year term
  • Audrianna Rodriguez, 4-year term
  • Teri Wang, 2-year term
  • Sharena Zayed, 2-year term

Together, the members "broadly represent the racial, social, economic and cultural diversity of the city including members who represent immigrant/refugee, LGBTQ+, youth, faith and business communities," the city said.
According to the city, the new commission will serve "as the overarching authority in conjunction with the Civilian Police Review Board to conduct investigations and hand down decisions, rather than recommendations on police misconduct."

The commission was created following the passage of Issue 24 by voters last year.

Its goal is to serve as an "independent oversight body with increased resources and authority to make tough decisions on police training, policies and discipline," the city said.

Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb called the commission's creation a boon for the city.

“This is an historic moment in our city’s long journey towards police reform. While Cleveland’s Community Police Commission first emerged out of the consent decree, this commission will live beyond it with greater powers and real independence to truly make a difference,” Bibb said. “This commission is destined to leave a legacy of progress. With the changes implemented by the charter amendment, it’s strong enough to deliver real accountability and make lasting change.”

Some critics say the city's selection process of the commission was flawed and did not follow the language in the city charter. "At least one commission members must be, represent, or be knowledgeable of, as applicable, the issues of five enumerated categories:

  • "Those who are limited-English speakers, homeless, or who have mental illness and substance abused disorders."
  • "Those who have been directly impacted by police violence, or be a family members of a person who has been killed by police."
  • "Those who have been incarcerated and exonerated where police were involved in the wrongful convicted or incarceration."
  • "Gun-violence survivors or be a family members of a person killed by gun violence."
  • "An attorney with experience representing victims of police misconduct or criminally prosecuting police misconduct."

"There is only one true interpretation and it is what it is," said Brenda Bickerstaff, who helped draft Issue 24. "It says it in the charter it has to be an attorney; a person that's been wrongfully convicted."

Cleveland's Chief Legal Counsel Mark Griffin disagrees with the public's interpretation of the charter, and also wrote in a letter that the city's previous administration submitted its interpretation to the city and it has not changed.

"You just need someone who is knowledgeable about at least one of those subcategories," said Griffin. "We have gone above and beyond that and we have picked spectacular people."

RELATED: Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb defends process for Community Police Commission nominee selection

Last month, Bibb defended the city's process for selecting the nominees after he was confronted with air horns and anger on the steps of city hall. You can watch more in the player below:

Mayor Bibb defends Community Police Commission nominee selection process

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