CPC Work Group Feedback on Search and Seizure Policies

Submitted: July – Sept. 2021

The CPC Search and Seizure Work Group reviewed the following Cleveland Division of Police (CDP) policy drafts in five key areas centered around the 4th amendment: “Search and Seizure”, “Investigatory Stops”, “Probable Cause/Warrantless Arrests”, “Miranda Warning and Waiver”, “Strip Searches & Body Cavity Searches”.

Vehicle Pursuit Policy Recommendations

August 31, 2020

On August 31, the Community Police Commission (CPC) submitted its vehicle pursuit policy recommendations to the City and Cleveland Division of Police. Community concerns regarding the danger vehicle pursuits pose to the public and the pursuit related death of a 13 year old girl in December of 2019 led the CPC to take a look at existing policy.

The CPC recognizes the CDP’s 2015 effort to update the vehicle pursuit policy and acknowledge that the current policy is generally in line with many national and local Ohio policies that existed during that time. In response to public concerns, the CPC concluded that five years is a reasonable amount of time to consider making several updates to enhance previous efforts in this area.

The CPC’s recommendations were informed by community feedback and existing research on best practices currently followed by other law enforcement agencies.

The CPC’s recommendations center on three key areas:

  1. Refining when an officer can use an authorized emergency vehicle to pursue a suspect and incorporating additional best practices for these pursuits;
  2. Defining training standards and limiting officers who are authorized to pursue to “sufficiently trained officers” only;
  3. Outlining criteria for reporting pursuit data to the public.

Search & Seizure Updated GPO Feedback

February 21, 2019

The CPC’s response to the City’s January Drafts of the (5) General Police Orders related to Search and Seizure

At the core of the (5) proposed Search and Seizure Polices are Constitutional issues that should not be taken lightly. The 4th Amendment is the backbone of the Consent Decree and violations have resulted in numerous complaint actions, costly litigation and harmful findings against the City.

The CPC’s Search and Seizure Work Group is unique in quality of knowledge and years of legal experience with 4th Amendment issues. The group may constitute one of the greatest resources ever assembled to examine local police policy. The recommendations made were done thoughtfully, with consideration of current case law from all sides, and reviewed for practicality of application in the field. We stand firm on the 22 recommendations from each of the 5 policies.

We appreciate the City’s efforts to include the communities concerns and the advice of this work group into the most recent drafts. We look forward to our February 25th meeting with the City’s policy team, DOJ representatives and members of the monitoring team to continue the conversation to ensure these policies are in harmony with the purpose of the Consent Decree.

Read the Full Recommendations: Response to CDP’s Search & Seizure GPOs

Search & Seizure Work Group Feedback on 5 GPOs

Submitted: November 14, 2018

The CPC Search and Seizure Work Group reviewed the following policy drafts: “Search and Seizure”, “Investigatory Stops”, “Probable Cause/Warrantless Arrests”, “Miranda Warning and Waiver”, “Strip Searches & Body Cavity Searches”.

Read the full Report & Recommendations: Search and Seizure (5) GPO Feedback (pdf)

Summary of Key Search and Seizure Work Group Findings: 

  • Many of the legal definitions in this policy could be strengthened with edits. In application of law the words chosen are critically important. Language changes make up bulk of the recommended edits to the proposed polices.
  • Some extra-legal concepts in the draft policies caused confusion amongst the work group. The proposed solution was to limit or remove concepts that can cause chaos such as “non-custodial interview”
  • It would greatly benefit the officers who must adhere to the policy if some concepts were simplified to “rules of thumb” or quick reference lists that balance people’s rights and officer’s safety and ability to enforce the law. An example of a concept that this can be applied to is “curtilage”
  • In a few places the policies should be updated based on the Ohio Revised Code, other statutory reference, or most current case law.
  • Some groups such as youth (juveniles) and gender non-confirming individuals deserved additional special mentions, or procedural adjustments in the draft policies.

CPC Draft Policy Recommendations for Response by the City:

  • Review and fully adopt each of the five revised drafts submitted in this report or, in the alternative; review each proposed language change, addition or deletion as a single item and respond per item;
  • Consider combining the Warrantless Arrests Policy with the Miranda Rights Policy.
  • Utilize the higher Ohio Police Officer Training Academy instructor standard of a licensed Ohio attorney (bar card) with experience in the subject to be taught to teach topics 2-1 through 2-7 including laws of Arrest, Search & Seizure at Cleveland’s Basic Police Academy and for any continuing education topics related to these topics.; and
  • Agree to partner with the Police Commission’s Search and Seizure Work Group to conduct a minimum of (1) know your rights/ search and seizure policy presentation at all 5 district policing committee meetings next year and (1) additional special weekend event hosted by the CPC.

Letters of Support for the CPC's Search & Seizure Recommendations


"We write today to express support for the CPC's revisions to the Cleveland Division of Police's Search and Seizure, Investigatory Stops, probable Cause / Warrantless Arrests, Miranda Warning and Waiver, and and Strip Searches and Body Cavity Searches GPOs ("search and seizure policies")." Read the Letter

NAACP Cleveland

"...the Cleveland Branch NAACP would commend the CPC Work Group and recommend that the parties to the Consent Decree adopt their recommendations and recommend to the Federal Court that these recommendations receive appropriate consideration in a timely manner." Read the Letter

Legal Aid Society

"We hear requests for greater police presence and engagement as well as for more accountability for police conduct. Well drafted, thoughtful search and seizure policies that are fully explained to the community and thoroughly implemented would be a significant step towards meeting the needs of low income residents in Cleveland." Read the Letter

University of Alabama School of Law

"I write to express my strong support for the Cleveland Community Police Commission's recommendation that the Division of Police require that legal topics instructors in both Cleveland Basic Police Academy and continuing police education courses be licensed Ohio attorneys who have subject-matter expertise." Read the Letter