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Frustrations grow during meeting between Cleveland City Council, police

Posted at 5:53 PM, Jun 15, 2020

CLEVELAND — A Cleveland City Council Safety Committee meeting turned tense at times Monday as some council members expressed frustration with police on a number of issues.

“Enough is enough and I’ve had enough,” said Ward 1 Councilman Joe Jones. “I’m just putting you on notice that I’m going to start voting against everything and I’m going to start stepping up and escalating the process on these issues and a lot of people are not going to like it.”

Jones, and Ward 7 Councilman Basheer Jones both expressed frustration with a lack of transparency by police.

“I will also be voting against anything in regards to safety until we are able to see a serious diversity plan from the administration,” Basheer Jones said.

Diversity within police ranks became an issue during a discussion about the progress Cleveland Police have made five years into a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice, aimed at improving policing in the city.

Council members were told it will likely be another two years before the city fully meets all the requirements set forth under the agreement, which was signed five years ago.

“Although we have a long way to go, I think we’ve turned the corner over the last couple of years,” Police Chief Calvin Williams said. “I think it’s evident in the way that we treated our folks out there.”

But Joe Jones became frustrated when the chief said white males make up 59% of the police department.

“When you get 60% white men in the police department in a city that’s 50% African-American and you’re loading up those neighborhoods with all these white police officers and then you’re giving them guns and you’re discharging them into the streets, that’s an issue,” Joe Jones said.

But Williams said when it comes to diversity with police ranks, there’s no rule.

“I don’t think the goal is ever to have the Division of Police, nor fire, nor public works, nor recreation workers reflect exactly what the make-up of the city is,” Williams said. “I think the goal is diversity.”

Williams also told council members that he has not yet debriefed with commanders about the violence that occurred downtown May 30 following a peaceful protest earlier in the day.

“It was probably one of the most disheartening things to see happen in our city, period,” Williams said.

Safety Committee Chairman Matt Zone praised police for what he saw as a restrained response.

“For the most part, even after that event, I think people responded well,” Zone said.

But not everyone on the council agreed.

“I believe we were totally and woefully inadequate from the standpoint of police and the way police officers were equipped,” said Ward 8 Councilman Michael Polensek.