Search & Seizure

(Consent Decree, paragraphs 160 – 175)

“CDP will conduct all investigatory stops, searches, and arrests with the goal of ensuring that they are conducted in accordance with the rights secured and protected by the Constitution and state and federal law.”

CPC Reports & Recommendations

The Community Police Commission has issued numerous recommendations, reports, and statements on Cleveland’s police policies since the commission was formed by the Consent Decree in 2015. Search & Seizure is among the issues the CPC was tasked to provide input on and our work is listed below:

May 9, 2022

The CPC’ Technology Committee released its initial report and recommendations on Cleveland’s emerging police surveillance technology. Committee members, composed of law professors from Cleveland State and Case Western Reserve, representatives from the ACLU and NAACP,  Public Defenders and activists, met several times in 2022 to discuss citizens’ concerns about police surveillance technologies. The goal: to determine a recommended course of action to protect privacy and simultaneously improve public safety. Read the Report & Recommendations

April 27, 2021

The CPC put out a brief survey to gauge how the citizens of Cleveland felt about the use of surveillance technology to aid police departments – including the use of unmanned aerial drones, Shot Spotter™, and improved camera systems. The survey asked: “Are you comfortable with the Cleveland Division of Police using technology such as security cameras, Shot Spotter, drones, etc? Do you think these technologies will result in improving public safety?” Read the Memo with Survey Findings

August 31, 2020

On August 31, the CPC submitted its vehicle pursuit policy recommendations to the City and CDP. The CPC’s recommendations were informed by community feedback and existing research on best practices currently followed by other law enforcement agencies. Continue reading

Related OIG Report: Review & Analysis of Current Division Vehicle Pursuit Policy (pdf)

Cleveland Division of Police - Office of the Inspector General
June 2020

February 21, 2019

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.  Continue reading

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”. Continue reading

CDP's Current Search and Seizure Policies

General police orders (GPOs) are a collection of written policies that guide how duties are carried out and how officers interact with the community. Below are the current GPOs related to search and seizure:

Regarding Search & Seizure, the Constitution and the Fourth Amendment

The CPC recognizes the Constitution is the backbone of the Consent Decree, particularly the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. Although the Constitution alone is not sufficient to ensure justice in every case of police action locally, its values, particularly the power vested in “We the people,” is at the heart of the CPC’s work.

In its 2014 findings letter, the DOJ concluded: “that we have reasonable cause to believe that CDP engages in a pattern or practice of the use of excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. We have determined that structural and systemic deficiencies and practices—including insufficient accountability, inadequate training, ineffective policies, and inadequate engagement with the community— contribute to the use of unreasonable force.” Read the full DOJ findings letter (pdf).

Since 2015, our advocacy work has contributed to the Division of Police making great strides forward in its practices and procedures. However, we thought it prudent to share the words of the Fourth Amendment with the hope that we, the people of Cleveland, never again have need for a settlement agreement:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

It is the CPC’s wish is that these words will continue to guide future policy decisions and lead to safe, equitable and just experiences for all citizens of Cleveland.

How to Get Involved

Together, we can make policing policies better. Your feedback is crucial to ensuring the Commission’s reports and recommendations on ways to improve police policies reflect the values of all Cleveland residents. Join a CPC work group to discuss and prepare reports on issues outlined in the Consent Decree, or view our list of other ways to get involved in the police reform process and have your voices heard.