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Disagreement On Consent Decree's Success Blocks Police Reform In Cleveland

Demonstrators outside Cleveland's First District precinct speak with Cleveland Division of Police commanders. [Matthew Richmond / ideastream]
photo of protesters and Cleveland police

The lawyer for Cleveland’s police union says an incident like the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis would not happen in Cleveland.

During a Tuesday lunchtime session hosted by the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, Joseph Delguyd said the consent decree in Cleveland and the Department of Justice oversight it has brought are preventing police brutality.

“This is what we’re talking about right now. This is what’s ignited the country,” Delguyd said. “What happened with this guy in Minnesota, that won’t happen in Cleveland, Ohio. Too many checks and balances. Too many good people working. Too many good people supervising.”

Black Lives Matter Cleveland co-founder Kareem Henton, also a speaker at the lunch session, disputed that claim, pointing to the April death of Desmond Franklin, who was shot and killed by an off-duty Cleveland police officer.

“Officers murder black and brown people with impunity. They have the unconditional backing of a police union,” Henton said. “And there’s nothing that the consent decree is really doing that’s really able to circumvent those areas because of binding arbitration, because of that collective bargaining agreement and because of a complicit and aggressive police culture.”

Black Lives Matter Cleveland recently released a ten-point plan for reforming the police department.

The proposal includes requiring officers to carry liability insurance, requiring the automatic firing of officers with two or more excessive force incidents and calls for defunding of the Cleveland Division of Police.

Henton has said BLM Cleveland will bring its proposals to city council for consideration.

Matthew Richmond is a reporter/producer focused on criminal justice issues at Ideastream Public Media.