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Hundreds of cases of citizen complaints about police not yet addressed, federal judge demands a plan

Posted at 7:57 PM, Nov 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-21 19:57:52-05

Cleveland's Office of Professional Standards, the department that rules on citizen complaints about police officers, has been underperforming for years and has a backlog of hundreds of cases.

Today in Federal Court, Cleveland's public safety director, Michael McGrath, almost had to answer for that - but at the last minute the judge no longer required McGrath to testify.

While the judge acknowledged that there has been some progress made in other departments, he says Cleveland's Office of Professional Standards is truly lacking. 

During the court proceeding, the monitoring team, acting as a liaison between the Justice Department and the city, there was a backlog of 401 complaints that were not investigated in August. Since then, even with the team adding six new investigators, that number has only dropped to 383. 

Several representatives from the monitoring team said the city was not serious about fixing this problem.

Once the judge called the city to speak, an attorney for the city said she does not disagree with the numbers. However, she did say it's going to take time for the department to get to where the court wants it to be. She said there are already plans to hire more people. 

News 5 first told you about these civilian compliant backlogs years ago. Both the city's public safety director and the former administrator of the Office of Professional Standards would rarely go on camera to talk about the problem. Now they will both face a judge.

In Mid-December, the judge is requiring all of the parties to return to federal court. The city must have a concrete plan to make progress in getting rid of the backlogs or face the consequences.