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Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb rejects police commission pick for executive director

Administrative Manager Jason Goodrick welcomes the new community police commissioners during orientation Jan. 25.
Kelly Krabill
Ideastream Public Media
Jason Goodrick welcomes the new community police commissioners during orientation Jan. 25, 2023.
Updated: July 27, 2023 at 5:44 PM EDT
Commission members voted at their July 26 meeting to hire outside counsel before responding to the mayor's decision to reject the nomination.

"I personally am not in favor of his decision," said Commissioner Kyle Earley, who introduced the motion to hire an attorney. "And I want to say that publicly because I feel that he has undermined our power and our authority and our position.”

Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb has rejected the nomination of Jason Goodrick to serve as executive director of the Community Police Commission.

In a letter to the 13-member commission dated July 20, 2023, Bibb recommended the commission nominate two or three additional candidates for his review after opening the job to more applicants.

“It is not clear what process the Commission followed to get to this nomination, which is to say that it could not have been transparent and inclusive of community input,” Bibb told commissioners in the letter.

Under Section 115 of the city’s charter, the commission nominates its executive director and the mayor has appointment authority. There are no requirements for how it will conduct the search in the charter section.

The commission was created to oversee police discipline and policies, which it cannot do without an executive director. In 2021, Clevelanders passed Issue 24, which gave the 13-member CPC broad authority over the police department.

The commission needs to install an executive director to move ahead with the work voters gave it. With no one in that role permanently, the commission has not yet started reviewing the department’s decisions on officer discipline, a central responsibility enshrined in the city charter. And there is no system in place for the commission to receive information from the city on the disciplinary decisions it is charged with evaluating.

In a heavily contested vote at its June 14 meeting, the CPC nominated Goodrick as executive director and sent the nomination to Bibb. Goodrick started with the previous, consent decree-created commission in 2017 and was named interim executive director by the new commission at its first meeting in January.

The 13-member Community Police Commission's most recent meeting was derailed after a dispute over naming a permanent executive director.

In the letter, Bibb criticized the commission’s decision to dissolve a hiring committee that was also created in that January meeting to conduct an executive director search and nominate Goodrick for the job without creating and posting a job description.

“I intend to appoint a best-in-class Executive Director who will follow through on residents’ clear desire for the CPC to work cooperatively and support constitutional policing in our community,” Bibb said. “To that end, I commend the Commission for having established a hiring sub-committee and committing to a transparent and community-involved recruitment process.”

The letter went on to criticize Goodrick for issues at the commission, without providing details.

“Further, Issue 24 provided a clean slate for the CPC, and I am now concerned that the issues that plagued its previous iteration continue to do so today,” Bibb wrote. “Under Mr. Goodrick’s tenure as Interim Executive Director, there has been significant internal conflict, a loss of confidence, and insufficient progress. This is not the fresh start voters envisioned.”

Goodrick’s nomination as permanent executive director narrowly passed the commission, 7 to 5, with one commissioner absent. Several commissioners who voted against Goodrick raised the same concerns as the mayor’s letter.

Goodrick received support during public meetings from several community members, including the organizers of Issue 24.

“I am taking time to process (Bibb's) letter and consider all my options,” Goodrick said in a statement. “I appreciate the many calls and texts from community members and colleagues who are in support of my nomination and my work.”

It’s unclear what will happen next. The commission meets again on Wednesday. Members could push back against the mayor’s rejection of their nomination or reinstitute the hiring committee to search for an executive director.

Commission co-chair Jan Ridgeway did not respond to a request for comment.

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