Police Reform in Cleveland: 100 Years Project

The CPC’s 100 Year Project documents the history of policing and police reform in Cleveland from 1922 to the present. Follow our timeline starting in Cleveland in the 1920s, or see past reform recommendations made by policing topic. This is an ongoing project and we encourage all interested individuals and organizations to join us in expanding on this research.

Decades

2000s - Present

Cleveland’s police force faces growing national scrutiny, the United States Department of Justice intervenes twice. In 2015 after the tragic killings of individuals by police including Tamir Rice, Timothy Russell, and Malissa Williams, the DOJ and City agree to a Consent Decree — the ongoing process that provides Cleveland’s citizens an opportunity to end the decades long cycle of unconstitutional police practices. 

Political Climate

The general mood and opinions about political and social issues in the 2000s – Today 

  • Partisan politics – Cleveland is one of the bluest cities in America, all partisan elected officials are Democrats. Major racial, socioeconomic, geographic, and generational divisions continue to exist.
  • The police are politically disconnected from residents: the CPPA endorsed Donald Trump in 2016 — Clinton received 82% of the vote in Cleveland.
  • By 2020 Cleveland’s population is down to 372k, Black Clevelanders make up 48% of the population. Cleveland still has 1,613 officers, 23% of which are Black, a lower percentage than in the 1990s.
  • The Great Recession hit Cleveland hard — and despite an influx of young professionals Cleveland still has more people living in poverty than any other American city.
  • Crime, while lower than in the 1990s is still a major concern among residents. Organized crime is less organized but still a problem.
  • A long string of high profile incidents drive reform in Cleveland. Internet and Social media solidify the police reform movement across the United States.

Reform Key Highlights

Areas needing reform, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ)

The areas listed below are from the 2015 Consent Decree. Click here to read the entire document

Findings

While some of the terminology has changed, the 462 paragraphs of the 2015 Consent Decree largely repeat the recommendations we have seen over the last 100 years.

Journal Articles & Reports

Journal articles based on research conducted on the Cleveland Division of Police and a Civilian Police Review Board technical report by Cleveland State University professor Ronnie A. Dunn.

The "Pillars" of 21st Century Policing

Best practices and recommendations on how policing practices can promote effective crime reduction while building public trust, highlighted from the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. 

Building Trust & Legitimacy

Promoting trust and ensuring legitimacy through procedural justice, transparency, accountability and honest recognition of past and present obstacles.

Technology & Social Media

Balancing embrace of technology and digital communications with local needs, privacy, assessments and monitoring

Training & Education

Emphasizing the importance of high quality and effective training and education through partnerships with local and national training facilities

Policy & Oversight

Developing comprehensive and responsive policies on key topics while also implementing formal checks/balances and data collection / analysis

Community Policing & Crime Reduction

Encouraging the implementation of policies that support community-based partnerships in the reduction of crime

Officer Wellness & Safety

Endorsing practices that support officer wellness and safety through the re-evaluation of officer shift hours and data collection / analysis to help prevent officer injuries

Continuing the Research

The CPC’s research into the documented history of the Cleveland police is ongoing as part of the 100 Years Project. By looking into Cleveland’s past, the CPC aims to help the community gain a better understanding of what policing practices have been successful, what issues exist, and what lessons still need to be learned to move forward in creating a more sustainable policing model for the future.

If you are an individual or organization interested in joining us in taking a deeper dive into this information, please contact us to get involved in expanding on this research.

Join the Research

Please contact CPC Senior Policy Analyst, Ryan Walker, at rwalker@clecpc.org to get involved in expanding on this research.

Schedule a Presentation

CPC researchers are available for interviews and custom presentations for schools, groups or organizations interested in this project or its findings.

Questions or Feedback

We welcome your questions & comments about this project. Contact us via the information listed on our contact page or start a conversation on our community forum.

100 Years Project: Explore by Decade or Topic

Read about key documents and events by year, or learn about how each police reform issue area mandated by the 2015 Consent Decree compares to recommendations made in the past.