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Cleveland city council pushes for more training and oversight of special police forces

Posted at 5:44 PM, Mar 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-28 07:16:49-04

The city of Cleveland passed a resolution Monday evening to require all special police forces within the city to undergo anti-bias and sensitivity training.

It stemmed from an incident involving Cleveland City Councilman Kevin Conwell and Case Western Reserve University in mid-March. Conwell was stopped and questioned by CWRU officers while walking through campus — much of which includes his ward. The university’s president apologized, but Conwell believes it was a case of racial profiling.

“I was very, very disappointed and I went home and to make a man cry...,” Conwell said. “I’m going to do something about it," Conwell said. "I will put policy out there. Because I can do something about it to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

City council passed the resolution unanimously.

It will undergo discussion next week and is expected to pass Monday evening.

The required training will apply to anyone who is a police officer within Cleveland city limits, including CWRU, Cleveland State University, Cuyahoga Community College, RTA, Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority, Cleveland Clinic and MetroHealth System.

Cleveland Clinic and MetroHealth told News 5 that their officers already undergo annual cultural diversity training.

CWRU sent News 5 the following statement:

“Case Western Reserve is committed to maintaining the safety of our campus community in a manner free of any discriminatory practice.  University officers have received racial bias and sensitivity training previously, and will continue to participate in such educational efforts. We welcome additional opportunities to enhance our officers’ preparation for work across our community, and look forward to working with local leaders to identify new and better ways to achieve those goals.”

Conwell said that the resolution also comes with increased oversight of special police districts within city limits, and would require those districts to submit incident reports to the city of Cleveland.

James Hardiman is the president of the Cleveland chapter of the NAACP. He said the training, for all officers, should be a no-brainer.

“It should’ve been done a long time ago. It goes without saying it is a necessary movement,” Hardiman said. “We’re moving, but it’s at a snail's pace and I wish we could do it in leaps and bounds but the reality is, the problems are so massive in Cleveland.”

Last month, as part of the Consent Decree, Cleveland Police released a directive for anti-bias police training that officers will undergo.

Below is the training policy: