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.
Officer Assistance, Support, and Recruitment
Working as a police officer in any city is challenging, and it has been especially hard to be one in Cleveland. In the 2015 Consent Decree, there are many mandates that address officer training, recruitment, and wellbeing. These are not new topics of concern.
There have been many recommendations about officer training, particularly the prospect of using it as a part of, or alongside, continuing post-secondary education. The 1922 Survey on Criminal Justice in Cleveland recommended that the police training academy be treated more like a university. This sentiment was echoed by the 1945 Police Survey, and again, in 1993, by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, which recommended that police officers receive some amount of college credit before they start.
In 1973, the American Bar Association recommended that college graduates be recruited into the ranks. One interesting proposal, from 1967’s Policing in a Free Society, made the role of police officer a three tiered one, with those with more education and experience handling more complex and investigative duties.
In terms of recruitment, the 1922 Survey emphasized the importance of recruiting moral sound, physically fit recruits; the 1945 Survey recommended recruiting from the ranks of newly returned veterans. After the uprisings in Hough and Glenville, the need to recruit Black Clevelanders into the ranks of police officers was made clear, the 1967 U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (Unfinished Business), recommended that there be a Black Assistant Safety Director. In the 1980s, the CDP, released an internal recommendation to employ affirmative action to increase the number of Black officers.
One major area of concern that many police officers have had is uncompetitive pay, as a 2018 Cleveland Police Monitoring Team report noted. Concerns about pay and cost have fluctuated over time, but it is generally understood that having competitive pay reduces officer stress and can improve officer morale.
Timeline of Key Reports & Recommendations
The timeline below summarizes the recommended reforms related to Officer Assistance, Support, and Recruitment from the reports & documents that reviewed Cleveland police operations and encouraged reform. These are not the exact words from the text, but are summarized by our researchers as best as possible – highlighting key points and phrases.
- Promotions based on merit, modify civil service promotions (Criminal Justice in Cleveland), (Reorganization Police Department)
- Specialized or separate detective bureaus (Criminal Justice in Cleveland), (Reorganization Police Department)
- Improve recruiting, recruit based on character and fitness for police work; (CJC implied hiring fewer, more competent officers at higher pay) (Criminal Justice in Cleveland), (Reorganization Police Department)
- Improve police training, make the academy more like a university with outside experts teaching courses (Criminal Justice in Cleveland), (Reorganization Police Department)
- Utilize more auto patrols, fewer foot patrols; increase traffic enforcement (Criminal Justice in Cleveland), (Reorganization Police Department)
- Do more with existing officers; improve efficiency (Criminal Justice in Cleveland), (Reorganization Police Department)
- The academy should be constantly studying the problems in the organization and recommending improvements (Criminal Justice in Cleveland)
- Detectives should not be Cleveland Police, they should be their own agency based in science and higher levels of training. Detectives should be directly recruited from civil life, paid well. (Criminal Justice in Cleveland)
- Civilians should be used to supplement clerical work and other activities. (Criminal Justice in Cleveland)
- Women should be utilized in police work (Criminal Justice in Cleveland)
- Recruit based on moral character attributes and fitness for police work (Criminal Justice in Cleveland)
- Revise or abolish the role of civil service in police recruitment (Criminal Justice in Cleveland)
- End police organizations such as the Fraternal Order of Police (1945 Survey)
- Police officers should have a higher education standard for entry (1945 Survey)
- Utilize more civilians on the department (1945 Survey)
- Three tiered entry system for recruits; community service officer (unarmed), patrol officer & agent (investigative level). Recruits may enter at any level provided they meet the requirements. (The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society)
- Hire more officers of color, particularly black officers (Cleveland Little Hoover Commission), (Crime in a Free Society), (Cleveland’s Unfinished Business)
- End outdated traditions to increase morale (Grand Jury Report), (Cle Corruption Report)
- Affirmative action should be taken to achieve a proportion of minority group employees in an agency that is an approximate proportion of their numbers in the population (National Strategy to Reduce Crime)
- Patrol officers should be relieved of minor tasks in order to increase their capability to reduce crime (National Strategy to Reduce Crime)
- Patrol officers should receive training in conducting investigations and in gathering evidence, and complete investigations that do not require extensive follow-up (National Strategy to Reduce Crime)
- Ensure stability of assignment in a given geographic area for individual patrol officers who are operationally deployed (National Strategy to Reduce Crime)
- Recruiting should concentrate on college education applicants (National Strategy to Reduce Crime)
- Require officers without college education to take college courses as part of their training (National Strategy to Reduce Crime)
- Ensure adequate pay for officers (National Strategy to Reduce Crime)
- Raise educational standards for entry; every officer must know and be accountable for policy (Policing in the Nineties)
- Prioritize minority recruitment: make a commitment to affirmative action, improve civil service entrance and promotional exams, make policing more attractive to minorities--establish partnerships with schools (1980s Plan for Improvement), (1997 Strategic Report)
- A detailed list of all reform efforts for this time period can be found in the Consent Decree. Read the Consent Decree here or click below to see all documents and recommendations in the 2000’s - present
Continuing the Research
The CPC’s research into the documented history of the Cleveland police is ongoing as part of the 100 Years Project. We will be looking further into the topic of Officer Assistance, Support, and Recruitment by analyzing past recommendations concerning recruitment, training, health and wellbeing of officers, pensions and retirement.
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.
100 Years Project: Explore by Decade or Topic
Read about key reform recommendations made by year, or learn about how each police reform issue area mandated by the 2015 Consent Decree compares to recommendations made in the past.