Ohio Northern District federal courthouse
This morning, the local chapter of the NAACP, the Collaborative for a Safe, Fair, and Just Cleveland and the Ohio chapter of the National Lawyers Guild jointly filed a "friend of the court" brief in federal court. Amid the clank and clamor of West Huron traffic outside the courthouse today, representatives of these groups discussed their basis for recommending various consent decree modifications.
In short, the recommendations include:
- The office of the inspector general should be independent and should not report to the police chief.
- The Cleveland Division of Police should not be permitted to police themselves regarding the most serious use-of-force policies.
- "To ensure bias-free policing," the collection of race/gender data is essential.
- Specific provisions for addressing youth are necessary.
- The Community Police Commission should be strengthened, including through a direct point of access between the commission and the monitor.
- Bestowing on the monitor blanket testimonial immunity is not in the best interest; the monitor should be allowed to testify in cases that are brought to court.
"This particular consent decree expressly provides that it can be modified," local attorney Subodh Chandra said. It's unclear how the brief will be received by the court. The clearest goal is to maintain an ongoing dialogue about how best to implement the various cogs of the consent decree.
The groups' concerns all center around the interactions and engagement between the Cleveland Division of Police and the communities they serve. When it comes to specific consent decree language, the group is seeking more specific reform policies for the police department's internal investigations and more independence in the same.
"We have all the confidence in the world [in the CPD's investigation process], but by the same token we want to be prepared," James Hardiman, an attorney with the Cleveland branch of the NAACP, said, quelling reporters' concerns that this brief positions the group as antagonistic toward the police department's integrity.
Local attorney Terry Gilbert pointed out that the DOJ focus on the CPD's inability to police itself: "That is a bedrock fact that gives rise to all the problems we've seen over the years with police use of force. We think it's in everybody's interest to take a pause and show the community that these investigations are going to be fair and independent."
Read the full brief here:
Amicus Brief: Modifications to Cleveland Consent Decree