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Applications open for Greater Cleveland RTA's new Civilian Oversight Committee

A picture of a GCRTA bus.
Nick Castele
Ideastream Public Media
The Greater Cleveland RTA has opened applications for its new Civilian Oversight Committee, which will review complaints against the transit police department.

The Greater Cleveland RTA is seeking applicants to serve on its new Civilian Oversight Committee. The committee will review complaints filed against transit police and act as an advisory board to the RTA and the police department.

The committee will be comprised of seven Cuyahoga County residents serving three-year terms. They will be tasked with reviewing complaints against the RTA Transit Police Department and making recommendations to the police chief on discipline and policy changes.

Police Chief Dierdre Jones is looking for applicants who don’t hold extreme views on the police and can be impartial towards issues regarding law enforcement.

“We want people we can be unbiased," Jones said. "We want people who can be objective.”

Committee members will also have to complete training on bias free policing, crisis intervention, use of force and constitutional law, so they can make informed decisions and recommendations, Jones said.

According to the RTA, committee members must also "Reflect GCRTA’s customer base and have diverse representation regarding age, sex, race, color, religion, national origin, disability, genetic information, sexual orientation, military status, transit dependence and geography." The only requirement is that one member of the committee is a retired police officer with Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy experience.

RTA announced the creation of the committee last August. Jones hopes it will hold the police department accountable to the public.

“I like to think that it gives our stakeholders, who are you know our users of the system, I want them to feel like they have a voice here, and this committee I think gives them that voice," Jones said.

Although the police chief has final say and can disagree with the Civilian Oversight Committee (COC), they would have to articulate why, Jones said.

“Our internal affairs division will do the investigation and turn everything over to the COC. The COC will review it," Jones said. "They may even call their own witnesses. They may do their own in-depth investigations, and then what they’ll do is they’ll make recommendations to the chief.”

The deadline to submit applications is Feb. 24 at 5:00 pm. Inaugural members will serve staggered terms.

Abigail Bottar covers Akron, Canton, Kent and the surrounding areas for Ideastream Public Media.