CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Police Monitoring Team officially has a new leader, at least on a temporary basis.
Senior Federal Judge Solomon Oliver Jr. has appointed Case Western Reserve University law professor Ayesha Bell Hardaway to serve as the department's interim monitor. She will assume the duties and responsibilities of Hassan Aden, who plans to step down on Nov. 8.
The current deputy monitor, Hardaway's road to this position has been a rocky one. Back in the summer of 2021, Aden — a former police chief — accused Hardaway of anti-police bias for comments she made about the death of Ma'Khia Bryant at the hands of Columbus officers. Aden claimed Hardaway's remarks would cause people to "question her objectivity" and asked her to either limit her public remarks or be removed as deputy monitor. In response, she offered her letter of resignation.
However, Hardaway's planned ouster was met with widespread condemnation from groups like the Cleveland NAACP and Case Western, with protesters eventually gathering outside City Hall. Eventually, Aden relented and reinstated Hardaway, saying he had "heard the community's real and heartfelt concerns."
The task force is "charged with overseeing implementation of the Consent Decree and helping the Court and City of Cleveland gauge whether the Decree's requirements are taking hold in practice — in the real world and across Cleveland's communities." Although Oliver believes "substantial progress" has been made at the Division of Police since the city entered into the agreement with the Department of Justice in 2015, he recently extended the decree for at least two more years, saying the department "has not yet achieved substantial and effective compliance."
Aden, who like Hardaway had previously served as deputy monitor, held the top post for three years before stepping aside. It is not known if Hardaway could end up being his permanent replacement, but Oliver did sign off on her request to make Director of Outcome Measures Christine Cole interim deputy monitor for the time being.
A lawyer by trade and former assistant prosecutor in Cuyahoga County, Hardaway has been director of Case's Social Justice Law Center since 2019.