Cleveland leaders meet to discuss 'bias-free policing' law

Cleveland leaders meet to discuss 'bias-free policing' law

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The Cleveland Police Department is trying to change the way they deal with the public as part of a settlement with the Department of Justice.

Cleveland's Public Safety Committee met Wednesday morning at City Hall with a detailed agenda. Their first topic was how to work toward eliminating racial profiling by police.

The department already has an internal policy in place that officers have to follow, but these new efforts would make "bias-based policing" against the law.

The Public Safety Committee says it's been working to eliminate bias-based policing long before the DOJ findings determined that Cleveland Police showed excessive use of force against citizens.

"I don't want people to get the impression that just because these findings came down, that the city wasn't committed to it," said Councilman Matt Zone.

As part of the settlement with the DOJ, Cleveland Police will adopt new training procedures to help officers deal with people in the community.

On Wednesday, the committee reviewed and discussed Ordinance No. 750-15 Bias-Free Policing. Members hope the ordinance will encompass race, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious affiliation and age discrimination. Some city leaders are trying to make it the law.

"No one admits they're biased. No one admits they're holding something against someone because of their skin color, because of their sexual preference or national origin or gender," said Councilman Jeff Johnson.

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams attended the meeting, along with Deputy Chief Wayne Drummond, as studies and research were discussed in favor of the potential law.

City leaders hope to have this passed and signed by the mayor by the end of this year.

The Community Police Commission will hold another public meeting at Saint Paul's Community Church on Franklin Avenue at 5:30 p.m. The commission will discuss the bias-free ordinance, and give a presentation on the police review board and office of professional standards. The meeting will also provide time for public comments.

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