Part of the Community Police Commission’s mandate is to, “on an ongoing basis, review CDP’s civilian oversight structure to determine if there are changes it recommends for improving CDP’s accountability and transparency (Consent Decree ¶ 17).”
To that end, the Best Practices for Civilian Oversight of Police report will look at the best practices for civilian oversight, examine the current structure of Cleveland’s police accountability mechanisms, and discuss how the limits of these mechanisms might impede progress towards compliance with the Consent Decree. Understanding this will help the citizens of Cleveland make informed recommendations to the Commission that will, in turn, be able to recommend policies that will help develop a civilian oversight system that best fits the needs of Cleveland’s citizens.
It is important that Cleveland follow through on its efforts to reform the CDP by observing the best practices outlined in the report. Failing to do so will further erode any confidence the citizens of Cleveland have in their city—it will also continue to squeeze Cleveland’s finances. The City has spent tens of millions of dollars on police misconduct lawsuits since the turn of the millennium, with many even more expensive cases in the last few years.
Implementing the Consent Decree itself has cost the City between 6 and 11 million dollars annually. Existing research suggests that well implemented civilian oversight has the potential to reduce costly lawsuits against the city. In addition to civilian harm reduction, these financial factors should be strong motivation for Cleveland’s government officials to implement oversight best practices locally.