Free ice cream might not be enough to change opinions about Cleveland police

Free ice cream may not be enough to help CLE Police reputation

CLEVELAND - Rachelle Smith never thought it’d be her.

At a protest for the Michael Brelo verdict, she said she saw an officer breaking code by recording on his personal phone and when she tried to record him, he tried to slap the phone out of her hand.

"I was angry at first and kind of shocked, but then I decided the proper channel was for us to file a complaint and to report something like that," Smith said.

That was two years ago, but her case is one of hundreds that still hasn’t been investigated.

She said the consent decree, implemented in 2015 by the Department of Justice, hasn’t done much to help.

"The same problems that they saw in the original report, they still exist and that's with more staffing and federal oversight,” Smith said.

The semi-annual report was released on Tuesday and it shows the lack of significant movement in the police department.

In fact, non-compliance was the grade given for nearly 50 percent of the issues, including use of force and fair investigations into violent incidents.

Months ago, the department rolled out one of its plans to engage the community.

During the summer, a police-operated free ice cream truck will drive to different communities and hand out treats to children.

The idea was to encourage kids to view police as “one of them,” not to fear them.

Mario Clopton-Zymler, co-chair of the Community Police Commission, said it’s a step in the right direction.

“Partnered with those activities there needs to be an engaged and specific policy, which we are working on currently that talks about the problem-oriented policing,” Clopton-Zymler said. "I understand people's frustrations, but at the same time we all have to go through this process because we don't want one of these consent decrees again."

Smith said we should start simple but start somewhere, even recommending the same officers who serve the ice cream being the same ones who serve that specific community.

"Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback...when they pulled up on Tamir Rice that day, they might have seen him as the 12-year-old they gave ice cream to and not an 18 to 20-year-old armed suspect that they should be afraid of,” Smith said.

© 2017 WKYC-TV


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