Civilian Oversight of Police
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.
One role of the Community Police Commission (CPC) is to review the Cleveland Division of Police’s civilian oversight structure and to make recommendations on any changes to 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.
The main sections of the CPC’s oversight report are highlighted below, with more details in the full report here: Police Oversight in Cleveland: Best Practices for Civilian Oversight & Initial Review of Cleveland’s Oversight Structure (pdf).
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.
Research suggests implementing a permanent civilian oversight system has the potential to reduce costly lawsuits against the City and protect the reform investment.
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.
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).
Rating Score Total: 9 out of 30
9 out of 30 is real 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
Looking Ahead: Improving the Oversight System