CLEVELAND — It's officially a new era for the Cleveland Division of Police.
The conduct and oversight of the department is now in the hands of the Community Police Commission (CPC), which had its first meeting on Wednesday.
The CPC, which was created after Cleveland voters passed Issue 24 in 2021, 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.
The commission arrives roughly eight years after the Department of Justice's (DOJ) consent decree with the Cleveland Division of Police. The consent decree was put into effect following a multi-year investigation of the Cleveland police force, brought on by several high-profile use-of-force incidents including the infamous "137 shots" case that led to the deaths of two unarmed motorists, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, in 2012. The DOJ's final report — ironically released just 12 days after the fatal police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice — chastised the division for repeated "unreasonable and unnecessary use of force," multiple instances of officers "carelessly fir[ing] their weapons," and a prevailing belief among the city's Black citizens that "officers are verbally and physically aggressive toward them because of their race."
Last October, a federal judge ruled that federal oversight of the Cleveland Division of Police will continue into 2024.
The 13-member commission is made up of people of different races, cultures and ages. All are residents of Cleveland.
Jason Goodrick is CPC Administrative Manager and is heading the training.
"For a hundred years, we have not had good police reform and now is the day with 115 (the city's designation for the CPC). Our job is to turn your vision into a reality," Goodrick told the members.
It's a new vision of reform for Cleveland's police department, which for years has been accused of racism, brutality, and lack of accountability.
Goodrick says the commission members will have to stay up to speed on policies.
"It's fast-moving," he explains. "Police are always doing new things, new policies. There is no way that each of you can keep up with all of that."
The Community Police Commission is being supported by Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb, who campaigned on police reform and nominated 10 of the 13 members.
"The administration is here to support and making sure we set that up," says Delante Thomas who serves as Chief Ethics Officer for the city of Cleveland.
But before the CPC gets down to business, they also have hours of training ahead. It's training they believe will make Cleveland police more accountable for their actions in the future.
Here are the ten commissioners appointed by Mayor Bibb and approved by Cleveland City Council last month:
- 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)
Cleveland City Council also appointed three members 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)