On Thursday, December 4, 2014 the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced results of its review of the Cleveland Police Department's policies and practices related to unequal treatment, including the use of excessive force, racial discrimination and police pursuits. In response to the department's findings, several state officials released statements with their reaction.
Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson
In December of 2012, I asked for a review by the Department of Justice to obtain an objective, transparent, outside evaluation of the Division of Police's policies and operations related to the use of force. The City entered into this Department of Justice review committed to righting any unconstitutional wrongs proven to exist within the Cleveland Division of Police. Today we continue in that direction.
The City of Cleveland Division of Police has made significant progress in implementing the types of changes designed to foster professionalism in our police force and to ensure a safe environment on our streets, but there is always room for improvement. Although we may have disagreements on some facts or conclusions drawn, the City of Cleveland remains committed to continue making appropriate changes to the policies, procedures, and training that guide the use of force by the Division of Police.
We have the greatest opportunity, through a partnership between the City of Cleveland, Department of Justice, and the community, to create a template of how to do real community policing while recognizing the challenges of an urban environment. We welcome the review, appreciate the thoroughness of the report, and look forward to working with you and the community.
Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge
"I thank Attorney General Holder and the Department of Justice for conducting a thorough review that addresses important systemic changes needed in the Cleveland Police Department," said Congresswoman Fudge. "I also commend Mayor Frank Jackson and the City of Cleveland for its cooperation and assistance during the review. Clearly, we all have a strong interest in providing a safe community for every citizen and law enforcement officer."
"I initially contacted the Department of Justice in December, 2012 following the tragic high speed police pursuit of two unarmed Cleveland residents, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams. That pursuit ended with police officers firing 137 bullets, causing the death of both individuals. At the time, I requested an independent review of not only the facts of that case but one that examined patterns and practices within the Cleveland Division of Police that had generated long-standing complaints by citizens of violations of their civil rights."
"In August, 2014, following unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, I again wrote to Attorney General Holder and identified specific steps that would end excessive use of force practices and improve police-community relations in Cleveland. I am pleased that in its findings, the Justice Department recognizes the critical importance of stronger community engagement, the need for greater accountability, a role for police unions in implementation of any future agreement and other practical steps to address systemic concerns."
"I believe the Justice Department's findings and recommendations, when fully implemented, will lead to a safer community and restore hope that we can break from the past and create a better future that serves all citizens with fairness and justice."
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown:
"The investigation's findings are troubling and deserve the type of comprehensive response outlined today. Re-establishing trust and respect between law enforcement and the community is essential," Brown said. "I applaud Attorney General Holder and U.S. Attorney Dettelbach for their thorough and fair investigation. The citizens of Cleveland deserve nothing less.
The ACLU of Ohio:
"Today's announcement by the U.S. Department of Justice is not a surprise to many greater Clevelanders," said Mike Brickner, senior policy director for the ACLU of Ohio.
"Unfortunately, problems with police-community relations and the excessive use of force by law enforcement has been an enduring concern in our community. We must use this opportunity to reform a police system that has led to many people of color who feel unsafe, and unfairly treated by those who are supposed to protect and serve them. Our police department should be one that is marked by maturity, restraint, and trust that comes from proper training and supervision that keeps everyone safe. The ACLU of Ohio will continue to monitor the negotiations between the Department of Justice and city of Cleveland. It is our hope that reforms adopted will be systemic and promote fairness and justice for all Clevelanders."