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Issue 24: A new era in police reform in Cleveland

The new amendment was passed by Cleveland voters Tuesday and will bring a new, civilian-led commission to oversee police policies and discipline.

CLEVELAND — It was a controversial bill that remains a dividing line for the city: Issue 24.

The new amendment was passed by Cleveland voters Tuesday and will bring a new, civilian-led commission to oversee police policies and discipline.

“This is the beginning of reimagining what public safety looks like in Cleveland,” Danielle Sydnor, President of the Cleveland Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) said.

The issue mandates that representatives from civil rights organizations, law enforcement and at least one person who has been a victim or is related to a victim of police violence will sit on the new commission.

Issue 24 was overwhelmingly approved by a 59% to 41% margin, passing by more than 32,000 votes.

Lindsay Wheeler and Ronald Calhoun are two Clevelanders who voted for its passage.

“I'm looking forward to a stronger police commission,” Wheeler said. “I also think that it could help create a different energy and thought process around how we deal with crime and safety around our community here.”

“There’s been plenty of time for police accountability with the consent decree,” Calhoun said. “They're going to be able to administer discipline. That's the meat of it in my mind.”

Cleveland Mayor-elect Justin Bibb and Cleveland City Council will be in charge of appointing and approving the commission body.

“I’m looking forward to reaching out and meeting with leaders of the police union and members of our police department to listen to their concerns, hear their feedback because I want to fight for them as well as I want to fight for our residents,” Bibb told 3News reporter Mark Naymik in a one-on-one interview one day after being elected.

Cleveland's police union has remained vocal about its disapproval of the oversight. Some believe the bill is too controlling.

The NAACP, which backed the bill, says diplomacy and empathy can make this transition productive.

“We really acknowledge the fact that when you're going to implement large-scale change, that people are going to be concerned,” Sydnor adds. “If we handle this in a diplomatic way, we can come together and have the conversations that people are concerned about.”

The police union says they fully intend to fight this in court.

Issue 24 will take effect when the vote is certified, which is expected later this month. The new commission could be in place by late January.

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