Faith-Based Coalition Launches Meetings To Address Cleveland Police Department

WCPN stock photo of Cleveland Police, at 2014 Labor Day parade.
WCPN stock photo of Cleveland Police, at 2014 Labor Day parade.
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Last fall, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder presented a report that found lapses in training and instances of excessive force among Cleveland Police. The report touched on cases where protocols were not followed or alternate resolutions to tense confrontations were not used.

Now the Greater Cleveland Congregations is holding meetings that will let citizens chime in on what they think needs to happen to create a more efficient police force, and improve trust and relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

Doug Reaves is the GCC’s Criminal Justice Team Co-chair. He says the Justice Department report is the stepping stone for discussion.

“So we will be summarizing key points of the report to individuals within their community so that they can be empowered to have enough information to articulate it to individuals within their congregations, or their community, or their organizations which they are returning to.”

Greater Cleveland Congregations has its first meeting tonight (1/13 7:00pm) at Antioch Baptist Church. The organization represents 40 congregations across Northeast Ohio.

Ultimately, organizers want to present the GCC’s proposed reforms at a general assembly next month (Feb. 3rd). They hope to put their report in the hands of city and Justice Department officials.

Reaves says the general mood among many in the Cleveland area is anger.

“Their anger stems from years of what they would consider misuse, abuse, based on the report that was made. And preferably what we’re going to see coming out of this is that they will be hopeful in terms of the reforms that’ll be made, the relationships that will be developed, and the outcomes that are expected to be developed between the police and the community.”

The GCC meetings follow last fall’s controversial police shooting of a 12-year-old boy outside a rec center, who was brandishing a realistic-looking pellet gun. But the Justice Report was spurred by a November 2012 police chase where 137 rounds were emptied into an unarmed suspect’s car, killing the driver and passenger.

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