Citizens Ask If Cleveland Community Police Commission Will Deliver For Them

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By ideastream's Brian Bull

The Cleveland Community Police Commission held its first advertised public meeting last night.  The group is charged with recommending reforms to the police department, under a consent decree worked out between the city and the U.S. Justice Department. 

And part of the meeting was a public comment period.

During the roughly one-hour exchange, Raven Nyamwihura asked a question about Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy fatally shot by police last year. 

“How does the panel plan to hold police accountable for their actions, when they break police protocol and procedures?" she asked.

Commission members told Nyamwihura that citizens need to stay engaged and vocal to keep the pressure on for needed reforms.  They pointed out that the commission only has an advisory role.

“I want to say I feel hopeful, but I just hope this isn’t another way of turning us around and not giving us real answers,” she said afterwards. 

67-year-old Gerald Henley wants police to be more stringently trained and tested. He says the rookie officer who shot Rice was an example of flawed training.

“He had no business being there…and then, when a policeman does something wrong, then you have the other policeman trying to actually defend him. And that’s not gonna work.” 

And Julia Shearson, of Cleveland’s Council on American-Islamic Relations, wants the commission to support people who file reports against police officers without signing their names.

“Civil rights organizations state that anonymous complaints are very important to protect vulnerable populations and the Cleveland Division of Police need not be worried that they’re going to be deluged with anonymous complaints, it just doesn’t happen like that around the country.”

Four more public meetings with the Cleveland Community Police Commission are scheduled between now and the end of the year, alternating between sites on Cleveland’s East and West sides.

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