CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - It was an informative, contentious and emotional evening as community members and leaders came together for a listening session held at the New Fellowship Baptist Church in Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood.
The event was set up as an opportunity for community members to voice their concerns over Cleveland Police chase policies.
Police Chief Calvin Williams was there to listen and explain the division’s policy, and the difficult decisions that have to be made by officers and supervisors during a chase.
The impetus of the meeting was a chase that started in Cleveland and ended in East Cleveland when 13-year -old East Cleveland girl Tamia Chappman was run over and killed.
The chief apologized and expressed his regret.
One resident was angry that the chase was not called off by supervisors.
“So with the experience and the training they have, they should have stopped that chase when they saw it was getting dangerous,” she said.
In response the chief said that everyone must realize his officers were chasing two dangerous suspects that had just put a gun to a woman’s head during a carjacking on the city’s West Side, and at no time during the chase did officers and supervisors believe the chase had turned dangerous right up until the suspects crashed.
The chief was also adamant, when pressed, that police should adopt a no-chase policy. He said that would simply give armed criminals free reign in the city, and he was convinced that the suspects involved in the carjacking would at some point have killed someone if they had not been arrested.
The chief at times became emotional when discussing the issue.
“Wait, wait,” the chief said while turning his back to the crowd to gain control of his emotions, “If we did anything wrong in this then everyone responsible is going to pay for it, period.”
Cleveland police are bound by regulations set forth regarding chases as set forth in a federal consent decree.