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East Cleveland leaders look to end warrantless pursuits

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Posted at 6:09 PM, Jun 04, 2020

CLEVELAND — As the push for police reform in this country continues, a new movement is picking up momentum in one Northeast Ohio city as it tries to hit the pause button on high-speed pursuits.

A pair of East Cleveland city council members want tougher laws on the books to crack down on officers from other cities who bring warrantless chases to town.

“Is a stolen car worth chasing people at high speeds,” asked Justyn Anderson.

It’s the question both residents and some leaders in East Cleveland are asking when it comes to high speed chases in their community.

“We’re going to do something about it,” said Nathaniel Martin, East Cleveland City Council.

Martin, along with colleague Juanita Gowdy, crafted a new ordinance that would crack down on officers from neighboring communities, as well their own, who are involved in warrantless chases that turn deadly.

“They’re going to have to start being held accountable. Too many of our people are getting killed,” said Gowdy.

The pair said the reform to stop pursuits for petty crimes is overdue.

“Melissa Williams will not come back, Timothy Russell will not come back, Tamia Chapman will not be back,” said Martin.
The proposed changes come on the heels of the tragic death of Tamia Chapman.

“These warrantless chases, they’re taking lives that are unnecessary,” said Billy Sharpe, Urban League of Greater Cleveland Guild.

Chapman, 13, was walking with her siblings in East Cleveland when police say she was hit by suspected carjackers trying to outrun officers from Cleveland.

“We’ve got to get to this part where we get some calm and get to the table and start to negotiate these things, so we have positive change,” said Sharpe.

Both Gowdy and Martin said they have the support from the full council to get this legislation into law.

“So that we can cut down on people being killed by reckless pursuits,” said Gowdy.

They will present the new ordinance at their next meeting in two weeks.

“The best way to honor all these victims is to educate ourselves finally on the process. Educate ourselves on policy. Educate ourselves on legislation,” said Fred Barkley, East Cleveland resident.

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