Tuesday, October 25, 2016
The Most Important Conversation You Can Have on Friday
Putting aside the fact that this Friday we'll all be discussing how the Indians can win Game 3, there's a vital conversation you should plan on participating in, or, at minimum, witnessing. The man overseeing the implementation of the Cleveland consent decree will appear at the City Club and provide a very public update on how things are going. And he's also going to take questions from you and people like you.
If you're not sure what we're talking about here, you'll at least recall that last May, the City of Cleveland reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, promising to implement a set of reforms governing the Division of Police and how police officers engage with the communities they serve. That was the result of a two-year investigation, begun in 2012, following the shooting of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams by a number of officers, including, most famously, Michael Brelo.
I've just condensed a huge amount of recent history into one very short paragraph that omitted Tanisha Anderson, Tamir Rice, and many others. There have been too many names, too many places where the division of police should have been doing better. And all along, there were also great officers and commanders and civilians in the department doing strong work, serving their communities. Those who routinely do the work well seldom get recognized or thanked. The upshot of all of this, however, is that the great officers deserve great colleagues across the board, and the community deserves a police force that protects it, that doesn't inspire fear or cause people to believe the entire system is tilted against them. And the consent decree is supposed to ensure that.
The consent decree called for the formation of the Cleveland Community Police Commission, and about a year ago, members of that commission spoke at the City Club. It was an important moment, to get some of that conversation on the record, but I remember being troubled by the responses of one member of the commission. Steve Loomis, who also serves as president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association, seemed to filibuster and avoid answering questions about implicit bias, or even to admit that there were places where his rank-and-file members could improve their performance.
This week, a year later, we get another view of the policy implementation. Matthew Barge of the Police Assessment Resource Center (PARC) is leading the team that is charged with monitoring the implementation of the consent decree. Here's some of what you can expect to hear him discuss:
*The status of the backlog of complaints in the Office of Professional Standards inside the Division of Police
*The technology and equipment needs inside the division
*The work of the Community Police Commission
*New training for officers
*The state of transparency inside the department
If you'd like to do a little bit of pre-forum reading, we recommend this report.