The Consent Decree


Following an investigation in 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) found that the Cleveland Division of Police (CDP) engaged in practices that violated the U.S. Constitution and federal law. The DOJ determined that there was a pattern of excessive force and that operational and structural issues within the CDP contribute to this practice. Read the DOJ’s report here.

The City of Cleveland and DOJ entered into a Consent Decree, or Settlement Agreement, which requires the Cleveland Division of Police to make a number of fundamental changes to its policies, practices and procedures to address these issues. A federal judge oversees and enforces the Consent Decree to ensure that the City of Cleveland and CDP complies with the changes outlined in the document.

The United States of America and the City of Cleveland are committed to ensuring that police services in Cleveland are delivered in a manner that is constitutional, effective, and consistent with community values, while preserving officer and public safety. To further these goals, the Cleveland Division of Police (“CDP”) and the Cleveland community must have a strong relationship that is built on mutual trust and respect. The provisions of this Agreement are designed to bolster this relationship and ensure that it endures.

- US v Cleveland - Consent Decree - May 26, 2015

Sections Covered in the Consent Decree

The below list serves as a general breakdown of the main sections of the Consent Decree. See the CPC’s recommendations, reports, and statements issued in each of these areas.

Entities and processes created to ensure accountability

  • Police Review Board (PRB)
    In consultation with the Commission, the Mayor will work with the City Council to develop an ordinance to place a Charter Amendment on the ballot that would ensure that the members of the PRB are appointed in a transparent manner, are representative of the diverse communities within Cleveland, and allow the chair and vice chair of PRB, to each serve for a term of one year, to be selected from among the members by majority vote of PRB’s membership. PRB members will not be current or former members of the CDP.
  • Discipline
    CDP will ensure that discipline for sustained allegations of misconduct comports with due process, and is consistently applied, fair and based on the nature of the allegation, and that mitigating and aggravating factors are identified and consistently applied and documented.
  • Disciplinary Hearings
    The Chief of CDP will issue a General Police Order that requires officer to: a.) Cooperate with the Internal Affairs and OPS investigators; and b.) Submit all relevant evidence to the investigators such that it is available for consideration by Internal Affairs or PRB.
  • Internally Discovered Misconduct
    Internal Affairs will conduct objective, comprehensive and timely investigations of all internal allegations of officer misconduct.
  • Reporting Misconduct and Preventing Retaliation
    CDP will require any CDP employee who observes or becomes awre of any act of misconduct by another employee to report the incident to a supervisor or directly to Internal Affairs.
  • Investigation of Civilian Complaints
    – Classification of Civilian Complaints – Communication with the Complainant – Investigation of Civilian Complaints – The Office of Professional Standards (OPS) – Filing and Tracking of Civilian Complaints

See the CPC’s work in the area of Accountability

Cleveland Division of Police will deliver police services with the goal of ensuring that they are equitable, respectful, and free of unlawful bias, in a manner that promotes broad community engagement and confidence in CDP. CDP Expects all officers to treat all members of the Cleveland community with courtesy, professionalism, and respect, and not to use harassing, intimidating, or derogatory language. CDP will administer all activities without discrimination on the bias of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity: – Procedures – Policies – Tactics – Resource Deployment – Job Descriptions – Management – Recruitment – Training – Accountability Systems – Personnel Evaluations

 See the CPC’s work in the area of Bias-Free Policing

CPOP Model Cleveland Division of Police will develop and implement a comprehensive and integrated community and problem-oriented policing model in order to: – promote and strengthen partnerships within the community – engage constructively with the community to ensure collaborative problem-solving – increase community confidence in CDP The CDP will consult with the Commission regarding this model as appropriate.”

See the CPC’s work in the area of Community & Problem Oriented Policing (CPOP)

  • Crisis Intervention Training CDP will provide training on responding to individuals in crisis to all of its officers and recruits.
  • Specialized Crisis Intervention Trained Officers CDP will provide enhanced specialized training in responding to individuals in crisis to certain officers (“specialized CIT officers”). Specialized CIT officers will continue to be assigned to the patrol division and will maintain their standard patrol duties, except when called upon to respond to incidents or calls involving individuals in crisis.
  • Crisis Intervention Policies and Procedures The Ohio Criminal Justice Coordinating Center of Excellence currently is conducting a peer review of the crisis intervention program in Cuyahoga County. The results of the peer review assessment will be provided to the Advisory Committee, DOJ and the Monitor. In developing its policies and procedures and the plan required by paragraph 152, the City will consider this assessment and any recommendations contained within it.
  • Crisis Intervention Coordinator An officer at the rank of captain of above – acts as a Crisis Intervention Coordinator to between facilitate communication between CDP and members of the mental health community and to increase the effectiveness of CDP’s Crisis Intervention Program.
  • Mental Health Response Advisory Committee Developed to foster relationships and build support between the police, the community and mental health providers and to help identify problems and develop solutions designed to improve outcomes for individuals in crisis.

Police Inspector General The City will hire an individual or individuals with significant experience in law enforcement practices and civil rights law to serve as Police Inspector General. The City will seek the Commission’s input in developing the minimum qualifications and experience for an Inspector General. Data Collection and Analysis CDP will collect and maintain all data and records necessary to accurately evaluate its use of force practices and search and seizure practices and facilitate transparency and as premitted by law, broad public access to information related to CDP’s decision making and activities. To achieve this outcome, CDP will designate an individual or individuals as the “Data Collection and Analysis Coordinator”.

Cleveland Division of Police will conduct investigatory stops, searches and arrests fairly and respectfully as part of an effective overall crime prevention strategy that takes into account community values. As a factor, to any extent or degree, in establishing reasonable suspicion or probably cause, unless such information is part of an actual and credible description of a specific suspect in an investigation that includes other identifying factors. To achieve this goal, CDP will revise, develop and implement search and seizure policies that comply with applicable law, and include the requirements below: CDP will provide all officers with initial training that is adequate in quality, quantity, scope and type on investigatory stops, searches, and arrests, including the requirements of this Agreement. The training will be taught by a qualified instructor with significant experience in Fourth Amendment issues. The training will address the requirements of Fourth Amendment and related law, CDP policies and the Agreement.

See the CPC’s work in the area of Search & Seizure

DOJ acknowledges that CDP recently has made important changes to some of its force policies. Building on these improvements, CDP will revise, develop, and implement force policies, training, supervision, and accountability systems with the goal of ensuring that force is use in accordance with the Constitution and laws of the United States and the requirements of this Agreement and that any use of unreasonable force is promptly identified and responded to appropriately.

The force policies, training, supervision, and accountability systems will be designed with the goal of:
– ensuring that officers use techniques other than force to effect compliance with police orders whenever feasible
– use force only when necessary, and in a manner that avoids unnecessary injury to officers and civilians
– deescalate the use of force at the earliest possible moment
– accurately and completely report all uses of force

See the CPC’s work in the area of Use of Force

Recruitment and Hiring
To maintain high-level, quality service, ensure office safety and accountability and promote constitutional, effective policing, CDP will review and revise as necessary its recruitment and hiring program to ensure that CDP successfully attracts and hires a diverse group of qualified individuals.

CDP will ensure that all officers receive adequate training to understand:
a.) how to police effectively and safely in accordance with CDP policy
b.) the requirements of this Agreement, Ohio law, and the Constitution and laws of the United States.

CDP training will reflect CDP’s commitment to procedural justice, bias-free policing and community policing, and will instill agency expectations that officers police diligently and have an understanding of a commitment to the constitutional rights of the individuals they encounter.

Performance Evaluations and Promotions
CDP will ensure that officers who police professionally and effectively are recognized through the performance evaluation process, and that officers who lead professionally and effectively are identified and receive appropriate consideration for promotion.

CDP will further ensure that poor performance or policing that otherwise undermines public safety and community trust is reflected in officer evaluations so that CDP can identify and effectively respond.

Recruitment and Resources
With the goal of ensuring that CDP is provided with the resources, equipment and updated technology necessary to implement the terms of this Agreement and to allow officers to perform their jobs safely, effectively and efficiently.

Helpful Resources

Citizen's Guide to the Cleveland Police Consent Decree

With a Special Focus on Implications for Children and Young People

This helpful guide was created by the Schubert Center for Child Studies at Case Western Reserve University  specifically for young people interested in the police reform process in Cleveland and how they may be impacted by these efforts, as well as those who may be interested in becoming involved to ensure a successful reform effort. The Citizen’s Guide does not outline every detail of the 110- page Consent Decree, so it is recommended to read the full Consent Decree document for further details. 

Role of the CPC and the Cleveland Community

The Community Police Commission (CPC) was mandated under the Consent Decree to provide input on recommendations for police practices that reflect the values and priorities of the many diverse communities that make up Cleveland. Ongoing community input into the way police services are delivered is crucial to strengthening police-community relationships that is necessary to promote public safety.

We encourage the community to take an active role in the reform process with the CPC to develop policy recommendations that better reflect your values and expectations. Here are ways to get involved