Department of Justice Launches Investigation of Cleveland Division of Police



Tom Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, announces the investigation into the Cleveland Police Department.
  • Tom Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, announces the investigation into the Cleveland Police Department.
The U.S. Department of Justice will launch an independent, external review into the Cleveland Police Department with a goal of determining if there is a pattern of practice of excessive force.

Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Tom Perez outlined in mostly vague terms the path that led the department to this investigation. He and others at the lectern emphasized that no one incident prompted this process, but the announcement danced around the Nov. 29, 2012, police chase and shooting.

"We will peel the onion to its core and leave no stone unturned," Perez said, evoking mostly uncreative metaphor. Indeed, however, the feds are kicking off what will likely be months of investigations into records, data, personnel interviews, ride-alongs, community outreach and more in an attempt to suss out how well police policy and training are working.

U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Steven Dettelbach added that the investigation will swirl around factors such as officers' accountability, training and practices. If a pattern of excessive forces emerges, the parties will begin work on determining a remedy, such as a consent decree, a memorandum of understanding or the implementation of an independent monitor.

Mayor Frank Jackson was one of many parties in town to request such an external review. (He was joined independently by clergy, NAACP leadership, residents, U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge and others.)

The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice engaged in an investigation into the Cleveland Police Department in 2002. That process involved the conditions of confinement at the Central Prison Unit. Perez said that that investigation will be at least one data point in the current investigation, adding that the timeline and scope of the work before them extends back for years.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.