Cleveland Police Reform Proposals Shared At Public Forum

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Passions ran high as people spoke about feeling afraid of officers sworn to protect and serve them. They referenced past incidents, including the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by a rookie officer, and the 2012 high speed chase where police fired dozens of rounds into the car of an unarmed driver and his passenger.

The event follows a recent U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the training and efficiency of city police, which found lapses and instances of excessive force.

U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach says they’ll take as much input as they can, but adds there’s no timeline for the decree.

“There’s no way to -- and we shouldn’t be -- setting artificial deadlines in the sand in terms of dates, but I hope in the next weeks and months, certainly, that we will be able to move forward and to see if we can reach agreement with the city, short of litigation.”

Among those speaking was Julia Shearson, local director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). She says the shooting of Rice last fall makes the case that city police must preserve the lives of all citizens.

“Not only is it unacceptable that he was shot because there was a lack of information, lack of training, lack of tactical perfection in this case…but then to let him bleed out because the police not clear performing as to whether they should be performing CPR?” asked Shearson, incredulously. “If that were my child, I would be taking my off my scarf or whatever I had and staunching the flow of his blood.”

Among the suggested reforms for police were implementing bodycams and dashcams; training all officers in de-escalating tense situations; and using Biblical teachings to promote love and compassion among law enforcement.

There is still no timeline for when the decree will be finalized.

Organizers say people can still provide their input in writing, and submit it to either the City of Cleveland, or the offices of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

And Dettelbach also suggests there could be more public forums like this one in the future.

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