Democratic Engagement of Bias-Free Policing in Cleveland

The Policing Project has been working with the Cleveland Police Monitoring Team to ensure that Cleveland residents have a meaningful voice on policies and practices throughout the implementation of the federal consent decree between the Cleveland Division of Police (“CDP”) and the Department of Justice.

The Monitoring Team recently recommended that the District Court for the Northern District of Ohio approve CDP’s new Bias-Free Policing Policy. The Bias-Free Policing Policy provides guidelines around (1) CDP’s expectations for its members around bias-free policing; (2) the principles of procedural justice in police-civilian interactions; and (3) protocols to report bias-based policing.

Importantly, Cleveland residents had significant input during the Policy’s development. The Cleveland Community Police Commission (“CPC”) was substantially involved in the development of the Bias-Free Policing Policy. The CPC’s efforts to gather feedback from a broad spectrum of the Cleveland community were considerable, with 14 total town hall meetings held across the city. The CPC ultimately provided CDP with a report and a redlined policy, each with sensible recommendations on CDP’s interactions with citizens of varying backgrounds and demographics, organizational culture, recruitment, training, and reporting.

While the Cleveland Division of Police might have incorporated additional CPC recommendations into the Bias-Free Policing Policy, the Policing Project is pleased that the concerns and experiences of Cleveland community were heard, discussed, and considered by CDP.

This process of community involvement reflects the kind of upfront, democratic engagement of the community on substantive policing policies envisioned by the Policing Project—where policies and expectations for officers are actively discussed across communities before and as they are formulated.