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Cleveland City Council approves all 13 nominees to Community Police Commission

The commission, which will have powers including police misconduct discipline, is now in place just over a year after Cleveland voters passed Issue 24.

CLEVELAND — Thirteen months after voters in Cleveland passed Issue 24, the new Community Police Commission has finally been created. 

The 13 nominees, ten appointed by Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb and three by Cleveland City Council, were officially approved by a vote of council on Monday evening. 

The Cleveland Community Police Commission will have the authority to make decisions on discipline for police misconduct, oversee and update police recruitment and training, and make policy recommendations on processes and procedures. Bibb's office says the new commission is "unlike any other in the country."

“This is an historic moment in our city’s long journey towards police reform. While Cleveland’s Community Police Commission first emerged out of the consent decree, this commission will live beyond it with greater powers and real independence to truly make a difference,” Bibb said in a statement following the vote. “This commission is destined to leave a legacy of progress. With the changes implemented by the charter amendment, it’s strong enough to deliver real accountability and make lasting change.”

Here are Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb's ten approved nominees to the commission: 

  • Alana Garrett-Ferguson - Policy associate at Center for Community Solutions, member of the Cleveland Branch of the NAACP (four-year term)
  • Cait Kennedy - Executive director & co-founder of unBail mobile app that allows defendants to access information about their specific case (two-year term)
  • Charles Donaldson, Jr. - Talent acquisition specialist at Sherwin-Williams and U.S. Coast Guard veteran (four-year term)
  • Gregory Reaves - Career coach at Towards Employment, former case manager at Recovery Resources (two-year term)
  • James M. Chura - Served 33 years as a member of Cleveland Division of Police before retiring in 2020, now serves as installation technician at Re-Sources LLC (four-year term)
  • Jan Ridgeway - Board president and volunteer director of Garden Valley Neighborhood House and former Cleveland Public Library administrator (Four-year term)
  • Sharena Zayed - Network weaver for University Settlement and Board chair of Stop the Pain Inc. (two-year term)
  • Pastor Kyle Earley - Senior pastor at City of God Cleveland, member of Cleveland Branch of NAACP and board member of Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland (two-year term)
  • Piet Van Lier - Senior researcher at Policy Matters Ohio, focusing on civil justice and criminal legal system reform (four-year term)
  • Teri Wang - Chair of community partnerships for Asian American Coalition of Ohio and owns writing/academic consulting business (Two-year term)

According to Bibb's office, to ensure fairness, all nominees were randomly allocated either two or four-year terms.

Here are Cleveland City Council's three approved nominees to the commission:

  • Dr. John Adams - chair of social studies department at Cleveland School of Science and Medicine (four-year term)
  • Shandra Benito - director of diversity and inclusion at The Nord Center (two-year term)
  • Audrianna Rodriguez - family advocate at The Centers for Children and Families for three CMSD schools (four-year term)

Commissioners were selected after "an extensive public engagement process involving over 25 community leaders, including the original framers of Issue 24, police union representatives and others," Bibb's office added. This group determined the shortlist of applicants and helped to guide the interview process.

Last week, Bibb's ten nominees went before Cleveland City Council's Mayor's Appointment Committee (MAC) for approval. The committee consists of Councilman Joseph T. Jones (Chairperson), Council President Blaine A. Griffin, Councilman Anthony T. Hairston, Councilman Kris Harsh, and Councilman Richard A. Starr. In addition, Safety Chair Councilman Mike Polensek, and Councilman Kevin Conwell also sat in on the interviews.

On Thursday, the committee recommended that the nominees be approved by the full council. However, Starr expressed some concern about potential dishonesty from nominees during the interview process. His concern led members of the MAC to share they reserve the right to ask nominees to reappear before the Committee if inaccuracies or mistruths are discovered.

"Part of our committee’s responsibility is to seat the members that the mayor has sent to the table. We will deal with legal interpretations at a later time, if they arise," said Jones. 

The new commissioners will undergo a customized training program as they enter the duties of their new office.

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