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Cleveland Plans To Collect More Data On Policing For Consent Decree

Officials from Mayor Frank Jackson's administration and the Cleveland Division of Police, waiting for a Wednesday hearing of the City Council Safety Committee to begin. [Adrian Ma / ideastream]
Officials from Mayor Frank Jackson's administration and the Cleveland Division of Police, waiting for a hearing Wednesday of the City Council Safety Committee to begin. [Adrian Ma / ideastream]

Officials from the Cleveland Division of Police (CDP) gave an update Wednesday to the City Council Safety Committee on efforts to bring police practices in line with a federal consent decree.

During the hearing, officials presented a few statistics from 2018 as signs of progress: a 29 percent reduction in reported police uses of force compared to 2017; a 22 percent decrease in officer injuries; and, with the exception of rape, a decrease in the number of major crimes reported.

However, those numbers make up a relatively small piece of the larger puzzle CDP must assemble in order to meet the requirements of the consent decree. 

"The only way that we show we're actually operating effectively under the policies is to collect data on how we're policing," said Judge Greg White, the city's implementation coordinator for the consent decree. He said that the agreement with the U.S. Justice Department requires CDP to collect more than 300 different types of data.

White's words on Wednesday echoed a statement from a March 2019 report by the Cleveland Police Monitoring Team — a federal court-appointed body tasked with independently assessing whether the City of Cleveland has reached compliance with the requirements of the consent decree. 

"The Decree requires that this data be collected, reported, and analyzed not simply as an academic exercise or because it might be interesting," the report stated. "Instead, it is required because, without accurate and comprehensive information, the actual level and quality of the Division of Police’s performance cannot be determined."

The consent decree between the City of Cleveland and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) began in mid-2015, following a DOJ investigation that found CDP engaged in "a pattern or practice of using excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment."

The consent decree requires police to collect a lot of data that they currently do not  — like detailed data on how officers interact with civilians. On that score, White said the division will start rolling out new technology to help officers enter such information electronically while they are in the field.

Under the division's 2019 Community & Problem-Oriented Policing Plan (CPOP), such data will include statistics on community outreach, engagement, bike and foot patrol frequency, organized/planned events and unplanned engagements and input into the Computer Aided Dispatch System (CAD). 

Of the several members of the council's safety committee who were present for the hearing, Councilman Basheer Jones seemed the least impressed by CDP's plan to better track police-civilian interactions.

"The data for me is the residents," Jones said. "And for them, some things haven't changed."

Reaching those people will take more than data points, he said. It will also take better communication between police and the public.