Cleveland Confronted by Backlog of Police Complaint Cases

Greg White, Cleveland's consent decree implementation coordinator, speaks at a council hearing. (Nick Castele / ideastream)
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by Nick Castele

Cleveland faces a backlog of hundreds of citizen complaints against police, according to the city official charged with overseeing compliance with a federal police consent decree.

Greg White, a former federal magistrate now working for the city, said at a council meeting that more than 260 cases from 2014 and 2015 have not yet been resolved. These complaints include alleged harassment, unprofessional conduct and lack of service.

The city’s Office of Professional Standards investigates citizen complaints before sending them to the Civilian Police Review Board for a ruling.

White said another 142 cases this year also have not been resolved.

“I think it’s fair to say at the onset that neither OPS nor the board is where they need or want to be at this point,” White said. “And it is something that is going to require hard work by everyone to get us to that place.”

Both OPS and the police review board received criticism from the team monitoring Cleveland’s consent decree progress. A monitors’ report published in June put it bluntly: “The state of OPS is dire.” The report said monitors will conduct a “microscopic review” of the office.

White said the city is hiring two more investigators for the office and has brought on an assistant director. He said three temporary employees are being vetted to help work through the backlog.

“The goal is to rework this process from top to bottom,” he said. 

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