Consent Decree Monitor Ready to Hit the Streets

Matthew Barge will head a 15-member monitoring team.
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by David C. Barnett

A Los Angeles-based monitoring firm has been picked to track Cleveland's efforts to reform police practices and procedures as part of a federal consent decree.  

The Police Assessment Resource Center (PARC) is a non-profit that has counseled cities across the country on policing.  Use-of-force expert Matthew Barge will head a 15-member team, and emphasized that PARC was coming in as a neutral observer and advisor.

"We are not here to run the police department," he said.  "I'm not the Chief of Police, I'm not the Mayor, I'm not the City Council.  At the same time, we're not the Department of Justice."

Barge's team includes law enforcement, criminal justice and community relations experts --- three of whom come from Cleveland.  Barge says there are plans to maintain two offices in town --- one of them downtown, near the police department.

"We're also going to have a home base out in the community, so that folks can see us, and kick our tires, check under the hood, and that kind of thing.  And to know where we are --- not hidden someplace down town, but out where people live their lives."

Earlier this week, city officials estimated compliance with the consent decree will cost $13 million dollars this year and $8 million in succeeding years.  Mayor Jackson said discussions continue with the local business and philanthropic communities for help in paying the bill.

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