CLEVELAND — Cleveland voters have a big decision to make on Issue 24 coming up on the November ballot, a decision that involves Cleveland police accountability and discipline.
Cleveland's two mayoral candidates are split on their support of Issue 24, or the Safer Cleveland Ballot Initiative, which, in part, would set up a Community Policing Commission made up of 13 civilians who would have the final decision making power on discipline in police misconduct cases.
Cleveland non-profit executive and mayoral candidate Justin Bibb told News 5 in late August he's in support of Issue 24 because it's the needed next step in Cleveland police accountability.
“The current way that we handle police misconduct claims is broken," Bibb said. “The ability to appoint members of law enforcement, folks in the community that have been brutalized by police and other stake holders to the police commission, and make that commission permanent so that we can have the right oversight long-term.”
But Cleveland City Council president and mayoral candidate Kevin Kelley made it clear he's against Issue 24, because he believes it would give the commission too much authority, without proper checks and balances. Kelley said Issue 24 would cause even more police officers to leave the Cleveland Police Department.
“That would take disciplinary decision away from the mayor, away from the chief, away for the director of public safety, and it would lead to an exodus of officers, and would lead to less safe neighborhoods," Kelley said.
Cleveland East 128 Street Block Club president Bob Render agrees more police reform is needed, especially after the Cleveland police consent decree is finally finished. However, Render said even though he agrees more civilian input is needed, he's against Issue 24 in its current form because it gives the commission too much authority.
“Its says the commission can hand out a decision, they can determine the budget for the police department, all kinds of miscellaneous things, but it can’t be overturned by anybody," Render said. “Civilian input is needed, no question about it, absolutely, but they shouldn’t have the absolute final say that can’t be changed or modified...what if you discover some information that wasn’t present at the time the commission was making a decision?”
Issue 24 would also give the commission oversight on promotion recommendations for officers, training procedures and the police investigation process.