Report: Cleveland police reach milestones, but ‘lag behind' in key areas of reform

Posted at 9:28 AM, Jun 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-13 09:41:52-04
The Cleveland Division of Police has made significant progress in some areas, but massive reforms are still needed to fully comply with the city’s federal consent decree, according to the latest Cleveland Police Monitoring Team report.
The team, appointed to oversee CDP reforms, released its third semiannual report Tuesday morning.
The report said the city has reached “important milestones” in complying with court-ordered reforms in several key areas.
For example, “in-depth, scenario based training” and CIT training, which teaches officers how to handle calls involving the mentally ill, are now underway. The report praised the city for going beyond requirements of the consent decree in creating a CIT policy.
The monitor team also praised the work completed on the first phase of the city’s community policing plan. 
Problems Persist
However, the report noted there are “ongoing challenges” and highlighted several key areas where the city has yet to implement reforms required by the consent decree.
The harshest criticism was aimed at the city’s Office of Professional Standards, which is responsible for investigating citizen complaints. 
In its report, the team wrote, “The Monitoring team has run out of words to capture the depth and breadth of the progress that needs to be made to cure the current inability of Cleveland residents to have complaints about city employees fairly and fully addressed in a timely manner.” 
For example, the team found, as of April 13, 2017, there were 383 pending investigations, including many stemming from complaints filed more than two years ago. 
The report also found OPS closed 162 cases without notifying the complainants, in spite of assistance from the monitor team in drafting a form letter to assist the office with the process.
‘Significant attention’ required
Many of the other key areas requiring significant attention, according to the report, related to how the city continues to fails to hold officers accountable for their actions.
For example, the team said the department’s use of officer performance data to “guide delivery of services, supervision, professional development of officers, and risk management” will require “significant attention.” 
The report also criticized the city’s equipment and resources plan.  The team found the plan “does not yet comply” with the consent decree as related to computers. 
The team acknowledges the city’s plan outlines how to deploy 105 desktop computers sitting in storage since early 2016, but the team said it cannot determine if the number of computers is “adequate” to comply with the consent decree. It also found the city’s plan does not ensure CDP maintain and improve its existing equipment.
The report also found “much work” remains related to how CDP investigates and reviews the use of force incidents, investigates officer misconduct, imposes discipline, and supervises officers. 
Why CDP has a federal monitor
CDP officers’ use of force goes to the heart of how Cleveland’s police department ended up under federal supervision. 
In December 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice released an investigation that found the Cleveland Division of Police “engaged in a pattern and practice” of using excessive force and violating citizens’ civil rights.
Six months later, the City of Cleveland signed a settlement agreement with the DOJ resulting in the consent decree, which included up to five years of oversight from an independent monitor team. 
A CDP spokesperson declined On Your Side Investigators request for an on-camera interview regarding the monitor team’s report. 

Read the full report below: