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Justice Department Investigates Cleveland Police Use of Force

Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 1:54 PM

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U.S. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez , Cleveland Public Safety Director Martin Flask (left)

The federal government is investigating the Cleveland Division of Police to see if officers there show a pattern of using excessive force. ideastream's Bill Rice reports the investigation comes three months after the Nov. 29 shooting in which two suspects died in a hail of bullets.

The probe by the justice Department’s Civil Rights Division will examine many use of force incidents dating back years.  U.S. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez says it’s a civil, not a criminal, investigation. 

PEREZ:  “We are focused on CPD as a whole.  We are not looking at individual officers.  We’re looking at systems issues here.”

Civil Rights activists - area pastors, the NAACP and others - welcome the investigation, and some say it’s overdue.  Mayor Frank Jackson requested it, according to U.S. Attorney Steven Dettlebach.  Jackson himself said the probe is an external investigation into whether the department follows its own rules and procedures. He said his office and the department will cooperate fully.  . 

JACKSON:  If there are things that are found that are suggestions to us that we need to do better in areas, then we will gladly change because our goal is to have a professional police division and have confidence between that division and the public. 

If investigators find there IS a pattern of excessive force, a federal court would likely oversee efforts to make changes.  The probe is expected to take 12 to 18 months.

In January Ohio’s Attorney General, Mike Dewine, concluded the November shooting showed a breakdown in police command protocol.  The County prosecutor in Cleveland has yet to decide whether to file criminal charges against any officers. 

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Courts/Crime - Fire/Law Enforcement

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