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Monitor Says Cleveland Lags in Revamping Investigations of Officers

Cleveland and Akron police patrol Public Square during the Republican National Convention. [Nick Castele / ideastream]
Cleveland and Akron police patrol Public Square during the Republican National Convention.

A monitoring report says Cleveland police have made progress updating policies but face a backlog in investigations of complaints against officers. The six-month review was released Tuesday by the monitoring team overseeing the city’s consent decree with the Justice Department.

The monitors wrote positively of the city’s new training guidelines for its use-of-force and crisis intervention policies. Both were submitted for a judge’s approval in recent weeks.

But the monitoring report criticized Cleveland’s measures for investigating potential officer misconduct. The team reviewed a sample of Internal Affairs investigations of officers and rated 20 percent of those probes poor quality.

According to the report, the Office of Professional Standards, which reviews citizen complaints, has 383 pending cases, some from as long as two year ago.

“It has become readily apparent to the Monitoring Team that OPS simply does not have the capacity to come up with a plan to address its substantive problems without ongoing technical assistance from the DOJ and the Monitoring Team,” the report reads.

Former federal magistrate judge Greg White, whom Cleveland hired to lead implementation of the consent decree, said the office of professional standards once had only four investigators.

“Today, as we speak, there are 12 full-time investigators working there,” White said in a phone interview. “So we anticipate that the backlog will be addressed accordingly.”

Nick Castele was a senior reporter covering politics and government for Ideastream Public Media. He worked as a reporter for Ideastream from 2012-2022.