Cleveland Names New Monitor for Police Consent Decree

Hassan Aden speaks at Cleveland City Hall.
Hassan Aden has been named the new monitor for Cleveland's police consent decree, replacing Matthew Barge. [Justin Glanville / ideastream]

Cleveland appointed a new lead monitor to oversee efforts to reform its police department July 17.

The new monitor, Hassan Aden, said the city will work as long as it takes to change what the federal government calls "a pattern or practice of using excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment."

"Where we are right now is we've essentially finished the policy work," Aden said at a Wednesday City Hall press conference. "But the hard work in implementing those policies and making sure that they become practice — that begins."

Aden was previously the deputy monitor for the consent decree. He replaces Matthew Barge, who is moving to California to be with his husband and will continue to work on the decree as an advisor.

"This change doesn't slow anything down. I think quite the opposite — this has recharged a team," Aden added.

Matthew Barge, center at podium, is the outgoing lead monitor. [Justin Glanville / ideastream]

Matthew Barge, center at podium, is the outgoing lead monitor for the Cleveland consent decree. Incoming monitor Hassan Aden stands at right. [Justin Glanville / ideastream]

The priorities for the next few months are "to get all of the training approved and in place on important policies such as search and seizure [and] implicit bias," Aden said. "We have a large volume of work but those are just two that we're engaging in."

The consent decree between the City of Cleveland and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) began in mid-2015. It requires police to collect detailed data on how officers interact with civilians in an effort to measure progress toward the decree's requirements.

Barge reported earlier this year that police used force less frequently in 2018 compared with 2017, with the number of reported incidents falling 29 percent. Officer injuries were down 22 percent.

The establishment of a monitoring team to oversee police actions for at least five years was one of the original requirements of the consent decree. The city agreed to pay $4.95 million over a period of five years to the nonprofit Police Assessment Resource Center, of which Barge was then vice president, to provide those services. Aden is a senior consultant for the firm.

Under the decree, Cleveland must prove to a federal judge that it has been in "substantial and effective compliance" for two consecutive years for most requirements.

"It's difficult to tell how long that's going to take," Aden said. "If [the monitoring process] gets extended past five years then the court will have to decide what we do, how we move forward."

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson called Aden "an excellent choice... to resolve whatever concerns that we may have in fully complying with the consent decree." 

The monitoring team will release its seventh semiannual progress report in August.

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