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Federal judge orders Cleveland to allow consent decree monitors to access city records systems

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Ygal Kaufman
Ideastream Public Media
Cleveland's consent decree monitor Karl Racine was appointed in 2023. Racine is the former Washington, D.C. Attorney General.

The federal judge overseeing the Cleveland Police consent decree ruled Thursday that the city has to disclose police records to the monitoring team and U.S. Justice Department.

In December, Cleveland officials blocked the monitoring team evaluating consent decree compliance from accessing its law enforcement record management systems, according to information shared during a hearing in Federal Court in Cleveland.

During that hearing, Cleveland's Law Director Mark Griffin told a federal judge the city halted the monitors' access because the city records systems include information from the state's Law Enforcement Automated Data System or LEADS database.

Under Ohio law, only certain people can access LEADS.

Consent Decree Monitor Karl Racine said in court that his office could not do its work without access to the city records, but did not need access to information from LEADS.

In 2015, Cleveland signed the consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice after a 2014 investigation found a pattern and practice of excessive force by officers.

Judge Solomon Oliver ordered the city to restore access and redact any information from the restricted database.

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