Ayesha Bell Hardaway named interim Cleveland police monitor

 Interim Monitor Ayesha Bell Hardaway is a professor at Case Western Reserve University's School of Law and director of the school's Social Justice Law Center.
Interim Monitor Ayesha Bell Hardaway is a professor at Case Western Reserve University's School of Law and director of the school's Social Justice Law Center. [ Case Western Reserve University]

Judge Solomon Oliver has named Case Western Reserve University law professor Ayesha Bell Hardaway interim monitor overseeing the Cleveland police consent decree.

Bell Hardaway will take over when current monitor Hassan Aden officially steps down on November 8. The city and Department of Justice have until November 7 to come up with a plan for selecting Aden’s permanent replacement.

Oliver announced Bell Hardaway as the interim monitor Monday morning, a week after Aden submitted his resignation letter.

Bell Hardaway is currently the deputy monitor, an expert on constitutional policing and has worked with the monitoring team since 2015.

In June of 2021, Bell Hardaway was forced to resign. She was accused of being overly critical of police in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, including during an appearance on Ideastream Public Media’s Sound of Ideas.

Aden had initially sought to move her to a community engagement role, but Bell Hardaway would not accept that change.

“Any acquiescence on my part to limit my engagement on the Monitoring Team to community issues that do not involve assessing compliance would give these baseless attacks on my professional objectivity unmerited credence,” Bell Hardaway wrote to Aden in her resignation letter. “You and I both understand that removing me from the substantive compliance work of this project is, in fact, removing me from the team.”

Public outcry over her departure, including calls for the monitor’s resignation, led Aden to ask Bell Hardaway to return.

Judge Oliver recently extended the court’s contract with the monitor to 2024.

The change at the top of the monitoring team comes just months after Cleveland officials questioned Aden’s continued presence in that role.

The city also argued at a hearing on consent decree progress in September that the city had achieved the main goals of police reform, including a reduction in officer use of force, an increase in community engagement and officer accountability and improvements in the way police respond to calls involving people in a mental health crisis.

At that hearing, the monitor and Department of Justice argued that Cleveland had made progress but still had work to do.

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