Diverse Civic Leaders Charged with Creating Cleveland’s Community Police Commission

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, flanked by U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach and most members of the panel that will choose 10 members of the Community Police Commission. Photo by Joanna Richards
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, flanked by U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach and most members of the panel that will choose 10 members of the Community Police Commission. Photo by Joanna Richards
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By Joanna Richards

The presidents of the Cleveland Foundation and Cuyahoga Community College and a pair of pastors from two influential black churches are among the diverse group of civic leaders Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson has chosen to start improving police-community relations.

It’s the first concrete step toward police reform under the agreement with the U.S. Justice Department.

The 11-member selection panel will choose 10 people to serve terms of up to four years on the Community Police Commission. Its job is to recommend policies to the police chief, mayor and City Council, as well as report to the community on the reform process.

Jackson said the selection panel members are all people who’ve “paid their dues” to the community and have earned the public’s trust, even when viewpoints differ. 

“We want the group to be credible, we want the process to be credible, because we want to have a credible outcome to this,” he said.

Members of the selection panel also include advocates for youth, LGBT people and the mentally ill, along with leaders from the Legal Aid Society and a neighborhood development group.  

Now, Mayor Jackson said, building the Community Police Commission is up to them.

“From this point on, they’re really independent from us, in the sense that they will be able to…develop the application, set the criteria, and select the type of people that they want on the Commission,” he said.

Three police organizations also will contribute members to the Commission. U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach said bringing together those diverse voices is important.

“Police officers are now formally sitting on the same body as will be people who are representatives from the communities, so they’ll have to learn to work together,” he said.

The selection panel has 30 days to accept applications from people interested in serving on the Community Police Commission, and another 30 days to choose its 10 members, who will serve terms of up to four years.

The complete list of selection panel members includes:

Gabriella Celeste, child policy director, Case Western Reserve University’s Schubert Center for Child Studies

Eugenia Cash, chairwoman, the Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services Board of Cuyahoga County

The Reverend Jawanza Colvin, pastor, Olivet Institutional Baptist Church

Colleen Cotter, executive director, Legal Aid Society of Cleveland

The Reverend Jimmy Gates, pastor, Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church

Anita Gray, regional director, Anti-Defamation League

Phyllis Harris, executive director, LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland

Alex Johnson, president, Cuyahoga Community College

Ronn Richard, president and CEO, The Cleveland Foundation

Victor Ruiz, executive director, Esperanza

Timothy Tramble, executive director, Burton, Bell, Carr Development Inc.

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