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Cleveland City Council moves ahead with UCI and Case police expansion

Kim Willems
Case Western Reserve University and University Circle Inc. maintain their own police departments. Other universities, like Cleveland State, and the city's hospitals and public agencies, like RTA and CMHA, all have their own police departments.

Cleveland is moving ahead with a plan to expand the area patrolled by Case Western Reserve University and University Circle Inc. police departments.

Both Case and UCI would expand their jurisdictions into Little Italy, and Case would expand into a small sliver of Glenville near the university.

“To have both agencies expand their territory, I think it’s the right thing to do,” said Cleveland's interim Chief of Police Wayne Drummond. “I believe it’s a force multiplier to have additional folks out there with pretty much having the same type of training that we have.”

The current agreements with Case and UCI and the other departments operating within the city require they have policies on use-of-force and police pursuits that match Cleveland police policies. The agreements only require similar training to Cleveland’s in areas like crisis intervention and bias-free policing.

The approval Wednesday by city council’s safety committee came after council members questioned the lack of oversight of all the small police departments operating in the city.

Committee chair Mike Polensek said council will address those concerns when the agreements come up for renewal.

“They all are going to have to adhere to implementing bodycams,” Polensek said. “We expect that all of the outside policing agencies, they have to adhere to all of the same policies, practices and procedures that [Cleveland police] is presently under.”

There are 11 departments operating within Cleveland. Council staff provided nine of those agreements to Ideastream Public Media. Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority police operates in Cleveland without one. A Metroparks spokesperson told Ideastream Public Media they have an agreement, though it was not included in the documents provided by city council.

The agreements were updated in 2018 and expire in December. It’s unclear whether the city could prevent any department from operating within Cleveland if they are found to be in violation.

“It’s difficult to answer that question at the table,” said Karrie Howard, Cleveland's director of public safety. “That would go to our law department and then we would ask our attorneys to get back to us.”

Glenville-area Councilman Kevin Conwell said during Wednesday’s safety committee meeting the Case police department has listened to public concerns and promised to be a positive presence in Glenville.

“They just don’t want to police the neighborhood, they want to build relationships with the residents,” Conwell said.

The expansion proposal goes to the finance committee before a vote by full council.

Matthew Richmond is a reporter/producer at Ideastream Public Media who focuses on criminal justice.