Safety committee wants visible changes in Cleveland police reform

Safety committee wants visible changes in Cleveland police reform

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Matthew Barge was chosen in October to monitor the federal's consent decree that addresses excessive force issues within the police department.

"The consent decree is really beginning in earnest."

That is how Barge, the court appointed consent decree monitor, opened a meeting with City Council's Safety Committee.

It was very general, mostly centering on how they will measure what's being done and how to make sure the community knows about it.

"The systems are not as strong today as we hope they'll be in 5 years," said team member, Christine Cole.

There were few specifics, but council had plenty of questions.

Councilman Mike Polensek believes some in blue never should have been hired, and wondered how many should be hired.

"There has never really been an outside look see as to what is the optimum number. I still believe personally it's 2000," said Councilman Polensek.

Regarding who is hired, police expert Sean Smoot laid some of the blame on the city.

"Do you know what officers are paid with they're hired as trainees as starting pay," asked Smoot.

He answered his own question saying "$10.50 an hour."

By comparison other cities pay trainees full pay, as much as $60,000.

Out on the streets the monitor has been talking to officers, and got an earful.

"They are engaged in redundant paperwork spending time sort of checking boxes and tagging in car and body work camera video," said Barge.

One thing seemed clear, the committee members are keenly aware that if changes aren't visible and accessible to the community the distrust between
citizens and law enforcement won't get better and could get worse.

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