Court ordered overhaul of Cleveland Police Department begins

Court ordered overhaul of Cleveland Police Department begins

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - "The consent decree is really beginning in earnest."

That is how Matthew Barge, 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.  Team member Christine Cole told Council members "The systems are not as strong today as we hope they'll be in 5 years."

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

Regarding who is hired, police expert Sean Smoot laid some of the blame on the city asking, "Do you know what officers are paid with? They're hired as trainees as starting pay."

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.

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

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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