How Cleveland churches want to change the city police force

A northeast Ohio religious coalition have presented their recommendations for reforming the Cleveland Police Department.

(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)
On Dec. 1, 2014 Tomiko Shine holds up a picture of Tamir Rice, the 12 year old boy fatally shot on Nov. 22 by a rookie police officer, in Cleveland, Ohio, during a protest in response to a grand jury's decision in Ferguson, Mo. to not indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

More than 1,000 people with a northeast Ohio religious coalition have presented their recommendations for reforming the Cleveland Police Department.

Leaders from area faith coalition Greater Cleveland Congregations presented their recommendations for police reform to local and federal officials at the Olivet Institutional Baptist Church on Tuesday night.

Among the group's recommendations were use-of force changes, increased accountability and transparency, better training and diversified personnel.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach (DEHT'-ehl-bahk), a U.S. Department of Justice representative and other officials attended the meeting.

A DOJ report issued in December said an investigation had found a pattern and practice of Cleveland police officers using excessive force and violating rights. The city and the justice department have begun negotiating the terms of a consent decree.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer published this list of recommended reforms from the Greater Cleveland Congregations (GCC):

1. Constitutional policing

GCC wants the division to follow clearly established constitutional standards. The group calls for the development and revision of policies on bias-free policing, use of force and stops, searches and seizures.

2. Reorganize internal accountability

GCC recommends the systematic collection and review of police data to ensure that best practices are followed. GCC also believes a consent decree must require policy changes that would, among other things, lead to a more diverse police force, give all officers specialized training in de-escalation and ensure potential officers are properly vetted.

3. Community engagement

"The consent decree must establish permanent independent structures and processes in the community for long-term, sustained cooperation, communication and accountability," according to GCC's outline.

The group also hopes for the implementation of an independent auditor who would ensure new and revised policies are adhered to, and an online system that would make police data and policies readily available to the public.

4. Financial sustainability

GCC wants a consent decree to include technical assistance from the Justice Department that would help Cleveland find the money necessary to implement changes. The group also wants the city to earmark funds for consent decree costs.

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