Revisiting Cleveland’s consent decree in light of George Floyd’s death

A Cleveland police officer sits in a squad car as District 1
A Cleveland police officer sits in a squad car as District 1(WOIO)
Updated: May. 28, 2020 at 11:03 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - You don’t have to be in Minneapolis to feel the pain and grief over the death of George Floyd.

“It’s really, really disappointing. It’s disgusting watching that video,” said Yumi Ndhlovu a youth council member with Cleveland-based Empowering Youth Exploring Justice (EYEJ). “It wasn’t even shocking at this point, because we’ve had previous cases in the past couple of weeks.”

The events in Minnesota are stirring emotions nationwide; and reminding Clevelanders of the city’s own troubles with police.

In light of Floyd’s death, 19 News revisited to consent decree signed between the city of Cleveland and the Department of Justice (DOJ) in May of 2015.

The five-year agreement stemmed from the DOJ determining the Cleveland Police Department engaged in a pattern of excessive force. As part of the decree, the city is mandated to make sweeping policy changes.

The most recent recommendations from the 21-member police monitoring team, submitted four new documents for approval including a use of force review and investigation policy, a manual and policies for the Force Investigation Team, a specially trained unit that investigates deadly use of force incidents and an agreement between CPD and the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department. That agreement requires the Sheriff’s Office to conduct independent criminal investigations related to use of force.

Those submissions have not been approved, as required, by a federal judge.

“The fact that it’s not been implemented in the past five years is really disappointing. But I think it’s a really positive step that Cleveland is trying to take,” Ndhlovu said.

“I don’t really know what’s going on with the consent decree. I think it’s really disappointing. I think in this city we tend to take too long to put things into place and implement them,” said the group’s executive director and founder, Mai Moore.

Ron Miller, another member of the group, said he’s not personally had negative interactions with police, but as a young black male, he has concerns.

“Frightful,” he told 19 News, referring to recent events. “That’s why people are scared of cops now.”

The group has long advocated for better relationships between police and area youth. They also work to enact policy changes.

Miller has other ideas.

“Get rid of all the bad cops that are doing these [things] to black folks. Get rid of all the bad ones, keep the good ones. Start with that,” he said.

Moore said the group is starting to shift its focus away from police and youth relationships, instead focusing on the broader issue of racism.

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams has said in the past that he hopes for the department’s policy changes, as they pertain to the consent decree, would be complete by the end of 2020.

If the judge does not feel as though all of the requirements have been met, the decree could be extended.

Because of COVID-19, a biennial survey of the community, to be conducted by the monitoring team, was postponed. The team has until June 6 to come up with a new survey plan.

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