In wake of consent decree, Cleveland police asked to do more 'community policing'

CLEVELAND - The City of Cleveland, Cleveland Police, the Cleveland Community Police Commission, the Department of Justice and a federal monitoring team are asking for the public’s input on a three-part plan released Tuesday as part of the consent decree.

The 28-page plan is divided into three parts: 

  • Community and problem-oriented policing
  • Staffing
  • Recruitment and hiring

The policies are not final, but according to the plan, “They reflect CPD’s efforts to date to create plans that comply with the Consent Decree.” 

The plan requires all officers to incorporate community policing into their daily duties, such as spending time on bike and foot patrols, attending community meetings and spending more time talking to citizens instead of going from call to call. 

Cleveland Police plan to roll out bike and foot patrols in all five police districts by the end of 2019. 

Community surveys will be conducted to measure public satisfaction with policing, attitudes and quality of police-citizen encounters.

The plan states all officers shall:

  • Incorporate CPOP principles in their daily duties.
  • Strengthen relationships and build engagement opportunities between the CDP and the communities within the City.
  • Actively participate in community meetings and events.
  • Incorporate bias-free and procedural justice principles in interactions with citizens.
  • Proactively learn about and engage the communities in their assigned areas.

The plan states all supervisors shall do the following:

  • Ensure that officers assigned to the Patrol Section devote at least 20% of their workday to community engagement opportunities.
  • Provide support and guidance to officers about CPOP
  • Recognize officers who excel using CPOP principles and remediate those that do not.
  • Ensure that officers are actively participating in community meetings and events.
  • Ensure that officers incorporate CPOP, Bias-Free, and Procedural Justice Principles during interactions with citizens.

According to the plan, the entire department shall:

  • Increase participation from a cross-section of the community in the District Policing Committees.
  • Build community confidence and trust.
  • Engage the community in policing policies and procedures.
  • Increase positive public perceptions of the CDP.

"We live in a very polarized society right now, right? So the goal is to try to mend that as much as possible. So there are community surveys, there’s certainly going to be tracking," said Judge Greg White, who is in charge of implementing the consent decree.

According to the plan, all officers are expected to know the community they patrol by interacting with the residents and attending community events and meetings. The hope is that as the community becomes more familiar with the officers they will be more likely to trust and report crimes to them in the future.

"We were a little short staffed for a while over the years, so officers were just going from run to run to run," said Cleveland Police Capt. Mike Butler, who heads up staffing. "And that’s the whole premise of this -- more recruitment leads to better staffing and that gets right into the community policing effort."

Capt. Butler said he knows many officers are already out in the communities, but the new plan will carve out time during their shift specifically for engagement.

The report gives examples of community interactions such as having officers stop to spontaneously play ball with children, swing into a coffee shop and speak to residents or have a casual conversation with someone in a park or along a street. 

"Get out of the zone car and engage the community, it's really that simple," said Cleveland Police Capt. Johnny Johnson, who heads up the community policing division and will train officers.

Officers will be required to note their engagement efforts through the computer aided dispatch system, where it will be tracked by their supervisors. The plan requires an average of 20 percent of their shift, if time permits, be devoted to community policing.

James Hardiman is the president of the Cleveland branch of the NAACP. He said any change will be an improvement from what Cleveland has had in the past.

"If we can implement these little tiny steps, eventually we’ll get to the point where we’ll have a police department that we are proud of," Hardiman said. "We are a long way from that right now, but at least we’re making incremental steps toward that goal."

Training for all officers will begin in July. After receiving community input, the final version of the plan is expected to be presented to a judge in September for approval. It will likely be fully implemented in early 2019, authorities said.

The first community meeting will be held in the Fourth District at Benedictine High School at 2900 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. It will be on June 27 at 6:30 p.m.

Residents can access the survey HERE. It will close on July 15th.

You can read the entire 2018 Community & Problem-Oriented Policing Plan below:

Here is CPD's public staffing plan:

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