First 100 days: Cleveland mayor’s plans for police reform

Published: Apr. 13, 2022 at 5:53 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - When Justin Bibb was elected Cleveland mayor, he vowed to make sweeping changes to the city’s police department – focusing on everything from training to police oversight and the way our officer’s patrol.

Tragedies like the 2020 murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis and the 2014 shooting death of Tamir Rice by a Cleveland officer have made it clear that police departments across the United States need to make drastic policy changes from the top down. 19 Investigator Kelly Kennedy wanted to know how much Cleveland’s new mayor has done to reform our police department in his first 100 days in office.

“I really do think that the work we’re doing right now, however, on issue 24 can be that model, where in this era, of post-George Floyd, policing, we are bringing new voices around the table,” explained Mayor Justin Bibb. “Not just from law enforcement, but victims of police brutality, who understand what it’s like to be victimized by police, and what kind of programs and training we need to get the culture right long term. I think in just 100 days, we made a tremendous amount of progress on delivering on the mandate that the voters gave us to execute issue 24, which is now called charter section 115, because it is now part of the city charter.”

In March, a federal judge approved an amendment to the city’s code, allowing Cleveland to merge issue 24 with the consent decree. It is now known as charter section 115. A major part of that is a new community police commission. It also changes the way police disciplinary reviews are handled and the civilian police review board will no longer be required to report to the police chief or the public safety director. The amendment also makes changes to police training.

“Just several days ago, we launched the application process for new members of the police commission, to be a part of this new body to ensure we have responsible and accountable policing in the city of Cleveland,” Bibb said.

Many people in Cleveland criticized the consent decree, saying that it didn’t go far enough to hold officers accountable.

“I think one of the biggest issues we had in the past with the consent decree was a true lack of intentional and authentic engagement with the DOJ,” the Mayor said. “Chief Drumming and I are very steadfast and very aligned on making sure we are fully compliant with the consent decree.”

19 News asked Bibb if he had a deadline for when he’d like everything with issue 24 to be in place.

“I think the biggest deadline I have is making sure over the next couple of years, we increase the pace of change we have under the consent decree,” said Bibb.

Another thing on mayor Bibb’s first 100-day tracker that’s listed as in progress is to evaluate current police training programs and compare them with the best practices in other departments.

“Really been looking closely at Denver, and their new crisis intervention model, where they are sending social workers to nonviolent 911 calls,” said Mayor Bibb. “That’s something I’d love to get done in Cleveland overtime. I’m also looking at Columbus, and some recent reforms they’ve made downstate, and they’ve done a pretty, I think, solid job in attracting new talent to that department.”

The next phase of issue 24 is appointing members to the new community police commission. The mayor will be accepting applications until April 30th. Mayor Bibb will also get community input on the applicants before submitting his recommendations to city council.

If you want to apply, click here.

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