New leader overseeing police reform in Cleveland says change won’t slow them down

"I think this has recharged the team,” Hassan Aden said.

New leader overseeing police reform in Cleveland says change won’t slow them down

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A new leader is now overseeing federal oversight of the Division of Cleveland Police.

The consent decree is in its fourth year.

The agreement came after the U.S. Department of Justice released a report in December 2014 saying Cleveland Police officers used excessive force too often.

It also found other systemic failures within the police department.

The Cleveland Police Monitoring Team held a press conference Wednesday to show it’s moving forward.

Officials with the Cleveland Police Monitoring Team held a press conference announcing a new lead monitor at Cleveland City Hall.
Officials with the Cleveland Police Monitoring Team held a press conference announcing a new lead monitor at Cleveland City Hall. (Source: WOIO)

Officials said a tremendous amount of work needs to be done, but progress has been made.

“We are not consigned to be as we always have been. We together can help change and make Cleveland a better place to live, a safer community,” said Matthew Barge, who has led the team since the beginning.

Now Hassan Aden, a former police chief in Greenville, N.C., is in charge.

He's been with the team for three years.

“This change doesn't slow anything down. I think quite the opposite, I think this has recharged the team,” Aden said.

We asked him his priorities for the team.

“To get all the training improved and in place on important policies, such as search and seizure, implicit bias. Things that are going to immediately impact how the police police,” Aden said.

Aden said the team has finished its policy work and now it’s time to take action.

“Can you tell us how you’re going to continue to try restoring public confidence in this process?” 19 News Investigator Sara Goldenberg asked.

“Absolutely. I think largely our work to this point has been inclusive to the community, but it has been, a lot of it has been behind closed doors, working on policy but yet seeking input from community,” Aden said.

“At this point, what is going to happen is we're going to pivot and transition to implementing training and policies to the most visible parts of the CDP,” he said.

Part of the oversight of Cleveland Police includes community input from people like Alicia Kirkman.

“My son Angelo Miller was killed 12 years ago. Twelve years ago it was nothing. And now they're talking about change,” she said.

Angelo was shot and killed by police in 2007.

“He was 17 years old, and yesterday was his birthday,” Kirkman said.

She feels like police reform is underway.

“I'm very excited that they want to step in and help us put more training in for the police officers to help the community,” she said.

But others like Malcolm Himschoot, a Cleveland minister, feel there's still a lot of work to be done.

“Where we got to with consent decree is not far enough, there's still places we have to go,” he said.

The consent decree is supposed to wrap up in 2020, but Aden said he doesn't know when they'll complete it.

The monitoring team was given a $4.95 million budget for up to five years.

If it takes longer than that, the court will decide how to move forward next.

The next progress report will be out in August.

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