CLEVELAND — An ongoing debate over the validity of the Cleveland police federal consent decree reached a crescendo, as the Cleveland Branch of the NAACP refuted statements by the Cleveland Police Patrolman's Association that the decree is having an impact on city safety.
Cleveland NAACP President Danielle Sydnor told News 5 Cleveland police reform has a long way to go, and consent decree police accountability must be maintained.
“I can’t take that as a real statement that officers are afraid to do their jobs," Sydnor said.
“It’s sad to hear that union would say because officers are now being held accountable, in a way that they had not been before, that they’re afraid to do the right thing, which is their jobs."
“When it comes to the consent decree, the community should really be the one that decides when the work is done because we will see the improvements, we will see less escalation of force.”
Last week, CPPA President Jeff Follmer said the consent decree is no longer needed and has officers afraid to do their jobs in the wake of stepped-up police accountability.
Follmer called for the resignation of Cleveland Public Safety Director Karrie Howard and said the consent decree is a factor in increased gun violence in 2021 because officers are in fear of being fired or suspended.
He said 13 Cleveland officers have been fired in the past year, with five terminated just last week.
“Our officers want to take back the streets for the law-abiding citizens but we cannot do that because we’re in fear of getting disciplined or getting terminated right now," Follmer said.
“The homicide rate is up crazy and we’re still looking for police accountability, how about let the police do their job and maybe some of these numbers go down.”
“We have civilian review groups, we have internal affairs, we have inspections, we have everybody watching us. It’s time to take back the city for all the law-abiding citizens.”
“If they look at the stats and the number of crimes in the city and violent crimes, the numbers are not going the weigh out the accountability that everybody is trying to hold against us.”
But Black on Black Crime President Al Porter said the 2021 increase in Cleveland's violent crime is due to current city economic conditions.
Porter and other civil rights groups are organizing a June 9 rally in in front of Cleveland City Hall starting at 5:15 p.m., in support of the Department of Justice consent decree.
Porter said rolling back federal police use-of-force oversight would be a mistake since he believes much more systemic change is needed in how Cleveland police interact with the African American community.
“There is no way, shape, form, or possible that they need to get rid of the consent decree," Porter said. “You still have police officers who ignore their supervisors, you still have public mistrust.”
“The Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association is not engaged with the community. That is why we needed the consent decree was an impartial system to look at the police department, because it’s unfortunate, but the police are unable to or are unwilling to police themselves.”