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Consent Decree Conversation Focuses On The Families Involved In Police Shootings

Cleveland entered into a Consent Decree with the Department of Justice in 2015.  The decree mandated changes in the city’s police department after an investigation found that the Cleveland Division of Police engaged in a pattern of excessive force. The decree lays out a number of reforms for police including changes in use of force policy, bias-free policing, more diversity in recruitment and hiring and increased transparency and accountability.

The Consent Decree grew out of a two-year investigation launched by the Department of Justice after requests from the City of Cleveland and concerned citizens. Those requests were prompted by the 2012 police chase which ended in the deaths of unarmed citizens -- Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams -- in a barrage of 137 bullets.

The DOJ investigation  found that the Cleveland Division of Police engaged in a pattern and practice of excessive force in violation of the U.S. Constitution.  

The Consent Decree and its reforms seek to restore trust between the community and the Cleveland Division of Police and protect citizens’ Constitutional rights.

The initial agreement called for a 5-year plan of reform but there is more work left to do so the Consent Decree will be extended.

Last week, the United Way of Greater Cleveland and the Cleveland branch of the NAACP convened the first of 10-planned community conversations on the Consent Decree. Those conversations to be held monthly through 2021 will focus on different aspects of the Consent Decree and involve key stakeholders in the reform process.

This month's panel is made up of women who have lost family members due to police shootings here in Northeast Ohio. They reflect on what was lost, how the responded to the tragedy, how they hope to move forward, and what they expect out of the reforms that are hopefully taking place in police departments, so that these shootings don't happen again.

Brenda Bickerstaff, sister of victim, Craig Bickerstaff

Alicia Kirkman, mother of victim, Angelo Miller

Samaria Rice, mother of victim, Tamir Rice

Bernadette Rolen, mother of victim, Daniel Ficker

Victoria Winbush, PhD, Psychologist, Cleveland State University.

Drew Maziasz is a coordinating producer for the "Sound of Ideas" and also serves as the show’s technical producer.