Originally published on May 28, 2015, at NationofChange.org
The Justice Department and the city of Cleveland announced on Tuesday that they have entered into a court enforceable agreement to reduce systemic police abuse and repeated violations of the Fourth Amendment. Although the Cleveland Police Department (CPD) has not admitted any wrongdoing, the Department of Justice found that a significant amount of CPD officers utilize deadly and excessive force. With a lack of proper training and transparency, CPD officers now face a myriad of reforms and independent auditors in order to reinstate the broken trust between the police and their community.
At the request of Mayor Frank Jackson on March 14, 2013, the Justice Department began investigating allegations of excessive force and violations of the Fourth Amendment being committed by the CPD. The investigation included a comprehensive assessment of officers’ use of force, and CPD’s policies, procedures, training, systems of accountability, and community engagement. On December 4, 2014, the Justice Department announced that a significant amount of CPD officers used excessive force and constituted an ongoing risk to the public and their fellow officers.
“The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that every American benefits from a police force that protects and serves all members of the community,” stated Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “The agreement we have reached with the city of Cleveland is the result of the hard work and dedication of the entire Cleveland community, and looks to address serious concerns, rebuild trust, and maintain the highest standards of professionalism and integrity. I am pleased to have the full cooperation of law enforcement and city officials in this effort. And I look forward to working with the entire community to build a stronger, safer Cleveland for residents and officers alike.”
According to the agreement, the CPD expects its officers to treat all members of the Cleveland community with courtesy, professionalism, and respect, and not to use harassing, intimidating, or derogatory language. CPD officers will no longer employ neck holds, assault handcuffed suspects, strike individuals in the head with their Taser or service weapon, use force against people verbally confronting them, pepper-spray compliant persons, or engage in retaliatory force. Officers will also use de-escalation techniques and allow suspects the opportunity to submit to arrest before using force against them.