Civilian Oversight

 

CPC's Role in Reviewing the CDP's Civilian Oversight Structure

Paragraph 17(d) of the Consent Decree states the Community Police Commission will: “on an ongoing basis, review the CDP’s civilian oversight structure to determine if there are changes it recommends for improving CDP’s accountability and transparency.” Regular reviews will help the citizens of Cleveland, along with the CPC, make informed recommendations on policies that will help develop a civilian oversight system that best fits the need of Cleveland’s citizens.

Status of Civilian Oversight of Police in Cleveland

There has always been civilian oversight of police. Police answer to mayors, city councils, prosecutors, and all civilian (non-police) officials, who, in turn answer to citizens who elected them. This, however, doesn’t negate the need for independent oversight of police that exists outside of the existing chain of command in an effort to reduce police misconduct against civilians.

Below, are highlights from the CPC’s report on civilian oversight and review of Cleveland’s current oversight structure. The full report is available to read here: Police Oversight in Cleveland: Best Practices for Civilian Oversight & Initial Review of Cleveland’s Oversight Structure (pdf).

Key Highlights

A truly independent oversight system does not currently exist in Cleveland.

The Mayor is ultimately responsible for managing the civilian oversight process and is also at the top of the Cleveland Division of Police's hierarchy.

Implementing the Consent Decree itself costs the City between 6 and 11 million dollars annually.

Research suggests implementing a permanent civilian oversight system has the potential to reduce costly lawsuits against the City and protect the reform investment.

Progress has been made towards fixing the civilian oversight system in Cleveland, but there is a long way to go.

Implementing the Consent Decree has required structural changes to how the City oversees its police force, but more changes are needed for Cleveland to have an effective civilian oversight system.

Oversight Best Practices

The 10 dimensions of best practices in civilian oversight are listed below and are based on existing best practices research. Here, we will compare the features of a successful civilian oversight body to Cleveland’s current oversight system. 

Diverse

Does DIVERSE describe Cleveland's current system? Yes, it does. The CPC and CPRB/OPS are diverse entities that reflect the population.

Involved in the Community

Does INVOLVED IN THE COMMUNITY describe Cleveland's current system? Yes, it does. The CPC regularly engages with the community and acts as the primary repository for the public’s input regarding police reform; the CPRB/OPS holds public hearings, welcomes input, and serves as a conduit for citizen complaints. The both regularly publish their findings.

Funded

Does FUNDED describe Cleveland's current system? No, it does not. The CPC and IG position have no guaranteed funding beyond the Consent Decree; the CPRB/OPS has only limited funding guaranteed by the Charter (§ 115). There is only guaranteed funding for 1 staffer.

Broad in Scope

Does BROAD IN SCOPE describe Cleveland's current system? No, it does not. The CPC has no power beyond recommending policies; the CPRB/OPS can only investigate administrative complaints, not criminal conduct.

Evenhanded

Does EVENHANDED describe Cleveland's current system? No, it does not. The public lacks confidence in the CPRB/OPS, and police officers and consider it to be frustrating and arbitrary.

Empowered

Does EMPOWERED describe Cleveland's current system? No, it does not. The City resists cooperation with the CPC when it requests documents; even though it is required to provide them in the Consent Decree (¶ 17.)

Independent

Does INDEPENDENT describe Cleveland's current system? No, it does not. The CPC and CPRB/OPS report to a single person in the same chain of command. Such system is not independent.

Regarded

Does REGARDED describe Cleveland's current system? No, it does not. The Mayor and Safety Director can chose to ignore any recommendation by the CPC, and can overrule any decision by the CPRB/OPS.

Transparent

Does TRANSPARENT describe Cleveland's current system? No, it does not. The CPRB/OPS decision making process for the Hillard Heintze Contract cases, is totally opaque.

Permanent

Does PERMANENT describe Cleveland's current system? No, it does not. The CPC and Inspector General position are not in the Charter, so, presently, it will last only as long as the Consent Decree is in force; the CPRB/OPS is in the Charter, but only a single investigator is mandated (§ 115-1), meaning it could be greatly reduced in scope after the Consent Decree ends.

Best Practices: Tracking Cleveland’s Progress

The CPC created a 30 point scale intended to help track the City’s progress towards creating an effective oversight system that follows the 10 dimensions of best practices listed above. To create this scale, each of the 10 dimensions are assigned a rating which is modeled after the Cleveland Police Monitoring Team’s scale for assessing progress with the consent decree: Non-Compliance (0 points), Partial Compliance (1 point), Operational Compliance (2 points), and General Compliance (3 points)

Independent - Score: 0
Rating Score: 0
Diverse - Score: 2
Community Involvement - Score: 2
Funded - Score: 1
Broad Scope - Score: 0
Empowered - Score: 1
Regarded - Score: 0
Transparent - Score: 1
Evenhanded - Score: 1
Permanent - Score: 1

Rating Score Total: 9 out of 30.
9 out of 30 is progress, but there is a lot more progress to be made to bring the civilian oversight of police into full compliance with best practices. This score is intended to set a baseline for future progress reports for Cleveland’s efforts for establishing effective civilian oversight. A more detailed description and discussion about this scoring method is available in our Police Oversight in Cleveland report (pdf).

Police Accountability Units

Entities in Cleveland and their role in the police oversight system

Attributes
– Reviews practices
– Recommends policy
– Investigates / studies implementation

Powers
– Compel records
– Hold public hearings

Reports to
– Chief of Police
– Mayor
– Citizens of Cleveland

Appointed by
– Selection Committee appointed by Mayor and DoJ, police associations

Origin
– Consent Decree 16

Annual Budget*
– $758,779 (*2019 proposed from Mayor’s estimate)

Attributes
– Reviews investigations
– Recommends discipline

Powers
– Subpoena
– Compel attendance

Reports to
– Chief of Police
– Director of Public Safety
– Citizens of Cleveland

Appointed by
– Mayor 
– City Council

Origin
– City Charter § 115-2, Revised by Consent Decree 230

Annual Budget
– $159,422 

CPRB Website: www.city.cleveland.oh.us/CityofCleveland/Home/Government/CityAgencies/OPS/CPRB

Attributes
– Sets civil service policies
– Manages civil services testing
– Investigates complaints

Powers
– Subpoena
– Compel attendance

Reports to
– Mayor

Appointed by
– Mayor 

Origin
– City Charter Ch.27 (§ 124-142)

Annual Budget
– $1,799,831 

Civil Service Commission Website: www.city.cleveland.oh.us/CityofCleveland/Home/Government/CityAgencies/CivilServiceCommission

Attributes
– Conduct legislative oversight
– Initiate legislation

Powers
– Subpoena
– Compel attendance
– Investigate (but not appropriate)

Reports to
– City Council
– Citizens of Cleveland

Appointed by
– City Council

Origin
– City Charter § 46

Annual Budget
– N/A (Total Council budget: $7,776,787), Services

Cleveland City Council Website: https://clevelandcitycouncil.org

Attributes
– Conduct investigations
– Audit the Cleveland Division of Police for compliance

Powers
– Audit
– Compel records

Reports to
– Chief of Police

Appointed by
– Mayor
– City Council

Origin
– City Charter § 115-2, Revised by Consent Decree 230

Annual Budget
– $159,422

Division of Police’s Website: www.city.cleveland.oh.us/CityofCleveland/Home/Government/CityAgencies/PublicSafety/Police

Attributes
– Investigates citizen complaints for CPRB

Powers
– Compel records
– Compel testimony

Reports to
– CPRB

Appointed by
– CPRB
– Chief of Police
– Safety Director

Origin
– City Charter § 115-1

Annual Budget
– $1,688,939

OPS Website: 
www.city.cleveland.oh.us/CityofCleveland/Home/Government/CityAgencies/OPS

Looking Ahead: Improving the Oversight System

Input from all communities is needed to create a more effective oversight system in Cleveland. Make your voices heard! Contact the CPC with your feedback, take part in a CPC work group or upcoming meeting, and view our CPC and community event calendar to get involved with other local organizations that support a long term plan for police oversight.