Police Practices

Good police practices, thorough training, carefully crafted policies, appropriate allocation of resources, and strong political and professional leadership can ensure public safety and prevent abuses in encounters between police officers and citizens.

The Shooting Death of 12-Year-Old Tamir Rice

In Cleveland, Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old African American boy, was shot November 22, 2014 by Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann after he and fellow officer Frank Garmback responded to a police dispatch call describing a "young black male" pointing a ...

In Cleveland, Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old African American boy, was shot November 22, 2014 by Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann after he and fellow officer Frank Garmback responded to a police dispatch call describing a “young black male” pointing a gun at people in a city park. Although the caller said twice that “the gun was probably fake” and that the guy was “probably a juvenile.” Arriving on the scene, the officers reported that Rice reached for his waistband. Video shows that Loehmann fired two shots within two seconds at Rice. Later, it was discovered his gun turned out to be a toy air pistol. Rice died the day after the shooting. Tamir Rice’s shooting death received national coverage in the wake of the recent police shooting of Michael Brown in Missouri and the choking death of Eric Garner in New York. The shooting also received staunch criticism from community members who accused police of unnecessary violence.

Related media stories and editorials:

» “Cleveland police officer shot Tamir Rice immediately after leaving moving patrol car” – Cleveland.com
» “9-1-1 caller says gun held by Cleveland 12-year-old shot by police was “probably fake
»“Police procedure experts question tactics of officers involved in Tamir Rice” – Cleveland.com
» “Tamir Rice: police release video of 12-year-old’s fatal shooting”  – The Guardian
» “Protestors block streets around Public Square” – Cleveland.com
» “Cleveland cop who shot 12-year-old slammed for ‘immaturity’ in past job” – CNN
» “Tamir Rice shooting tragedy” – Cleveland.com editorial

Department of Justice Releases Findings on Cleveland Police Use of Force

The U.S. Department of Justice announced the results of a 20-month investigation of the Cleveland Police Department’s use of excessive force. The agency launched the probe in March 2013 after several highly publicized incidents of violence against African Americans, including ...

The U.S. Department of Justice announced the results of a 20-month investigation of the Cleveland Police Department’s use of excessive force. The agency launched the probe in March 2013 after several highly publicized incidents of violence against African Americans, including the 2012 police chase and shooting that ended in the deaths of two unarmed citizens.

Here are links to the Department of Justice’s reports on the investigation:

Case Summary
Executive Summary of Findings Letter (2014, English)
Executive Summary of Findings Letter (2014, Spanish)
Findings Letter (2014)
Statement of Principles (2014)

Read the ACLU of Ohio’s comment on the U.S. Department of Justice Probe of the Cleveland Police Department.

Related media stories and editorials:

» “Cincinnati a possible model for Cleveland police”Akron Beacon Journal
» “Kasich forms task force to improve police-community relations– Dayton Daily News
» “Quest for justice demands nationwide review of deadly police conduct” – The Toledo Blade Editorial
» Cincinnati cops to get body cameras” Cincinnati.com

 


 

 

Automatic License Plate Readers: You Are Being Tracked

Click here for more information on the report A new ACLU report shows that police departments across the country are expanding their use of automatic license plate readers (ALPR’s) to track the location of American drivers. ...

Click here for more information on the report

A new ACLU report shows that police departments across the country are expanding their use of automatic license plate readers (ALPR’s) to track the location of American drivers. Unfortunately, few of these departments have any meaningful rules in place to ensure transparency, or protect the privacy of drivers.

When it comes to ALPR guidelines, Ohio is a mixed bag. The Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) has a good policy, one that requires all license plate records to be deleted immediately if they do not raise any flags. It further specifies that data cannot be collected, stored, or shared for the purpose of data mining. However, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office retains data for 90 days, and public records have not been collected from many other Ohio agencies, making their ALPR policies a mystery.

The OSHP’s ALPR policy proves that law enforcement agencies can still do their jobs while protecting the privacy of innocent people. Ultimately, Ohio needs state legislation that would create similar standards for all law enforcement agencies.

Click here for more information on ALPR’s.

U.S. Department of Justice to Probe Cleveland Police Department

Less than a decade after concluding their last Cleveland police probe, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced that they will return to the city to conduct a new investigation. The ACLU of Ohio requested this ...

Less than a decade after concluding their last Cleveland police probe, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced that they will return to the city to conduct a new investigation.

The ACLU of Ohio requested this federal investigation after a 2012 incident in which dozens of police cars participated in a three-city police chase. The chase ended with 13 officers firing 137 rounds and killing two unarmed suspects.

DOJ last investigated the Cleveland Police Department in 2000, responding to complaints that city police were routinely violating the constitutional rights of citizens. When this investigation finally closed in 2004, it had uncovered numerous problems and extracted a promise from the department to make changes. Sadly, by the end of the next year, five more police suspects had already died under questionable circumstances.

The problems have continued unabated into this decade. Viewed as a timeline, a sad pattern emerges: a spiral of policy violations, violence, and eventually blood in the streets.

This pattern must be addressed.

Cleveland Police Shooting

On November 29, 2012, dozens of police cars from multiple law enforcement jurisdictions participated in a 26-minute police chase through three northeastern Ohio cities. The chase ended on a dead-end street in East Cleveland, ...

On November 29, 2012, dozens of police cars from multiple law enforcement jurisdictions participated in a 26-minute police chase through three northeastern Ohio cities. The chase ended on a dead-end street in East Cleveland, where 13 Cleveland police officers fired at least 137 rounds into one trapped vehicle, killing two unarmed suspects.

In the weeks that followed, there were far more questions than answers.

On February 5, 2013, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine released the results of a state investigation into the shooting, calling the events of that night a “systemic failure” of Cleveland police policies.

Click here to access the AG’s report.

Racially Biased Policing and Excessive Use of Force in Cleveland

The Cleveland Police Department has recently been criticized for several officers’ prolific use of non-deadly force and for failing to review incident reports fully. This criticism after two officers were charged with ...

The Cleveland Police Department has recently been criticized for several officers’ prolific use of non-deadly force and for failing to review incident reports fully. This criticism after two officers were charged with assault for beating a man during an arrest.

In addition, the ACLU of Ohio is concerned the Cleveland Police Department may employ some racially biases policing methods. A June 2011 report, “Overcharging, Overspending, Overlooking: Cuyahoga County’s Costly War on Drugs“, describes the targeting of African American communities for patrols and sweeps, resulting in disproportionate rates of arrest and incarceration for people of color.

The ACLU of Ohio also represented two Clevelanders who were victims of racially biased policing in July 2010 in City of Cleveland v. Alvin Williams and City of Cleveland v. Chanel Christian. As a result of the incident, the Mayor agreed to permit federal mediators to provide training to business owners and police to avoid any similar incidents.

Use of Technology to Profile

Police departments around the state have begun to use web sites like Facebook and MySpace to monitor people’s online profiles and identify individuals whom they believe engage in illegal activities. Unfortunately, many innocent individuals are wrongfully identified as criminals because police ...

Police departments around the state have begun to use web sites like Facebook and MySpace to monitor people’s online profiles and identify individuals whom they believe engage in illegal activities.

Unfortunately, many innocent individuals are wrongfully identified as criminals because police have relied only on flawed profiling techniques rather than generating clear evidence that the person is engaged in illegal activity

Local Enforcement of Federal Immigration Laws

The Ohio General Assembly is considering Senate Bill 98, which would allow local police to enforce immigration laws. The ACLU of Ohio ...

The Ohio General Assembly is considering Senate Bill 98, which would allow local police to enforce immigration laws. The ACLU of Ohio opposes such efforts because they encourage racial profiling and causes resources to be diverted from dealing with local crime. More information is available on our Immigrant Rights page.

Good police practices, thorough training, carefully crafted policies, appropriate allocation of resources, and strong political and professional leadership can ensure public safety and prevent abuses in encounters between police officers and citizens.

The Shooting Death of 12-Year-Old Tamir Rice

In Cleveland, Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old African American boy, was shot November 22, 2014 by Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann after he and fellow officer Frank Garmback responded to a police dispatch call describing a "young black male" pointing a ...

In Cleveland, Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old African American boy, was shot November 22, 2014 by Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann after he and fellow officer Frank Garmback responded to a police dispatch call describing a “young black male” pointing a gun at people in a city park. Although the caller said twice that “the gun was probably fake” and that the guy was “probably a juvenile.” Arriving on the scene, the officers reported that Rice reached for his waistband. Video shows that Loehmann fired two shots within two seconds at Rice. Later, it was discovered his gun turned out to be a toy air pistol. Rice died the day after the shooting. Tamir Rice’s shooting death received national coverage in the wake of the recent police shooting of Michael Brown in Missouri and the choking death of Eric Garner in New York. The shooting also received staunch criticism from community members who accused police of unnecessary violence.

Related media stories and editorials:

» “Cleveland police officer shot Tamir Rice immediately after leaving moving patrol car” – Cleveland.com
» “9-1-1 caller says gun held by Cleveland 12-year-old shot by police was “probably fake
»“Police procedure experts question tactics of officers involved in Tamir Rice” – Cleveland.com
» “Tamir Rice: police release video of 12-year-old’s fatal shooting”  – The Guardian
» “Protestors block streets around Public Square” – Cleveland.com
» “Cleveland cop who shot 12-year-old slammed for ‘immaturity’ in past job” – CNN
» “Tamir Rice shooting tragedy” – Cleveland.com editorial

The Choking Death of Eric Garner

Eric Garner, a 43-year-old African American man, died July 17, 2014, in Staten Island, New York soon after Daniel Pantaleo, a white police officer, put him in a chokehold for about 19 seconds while trying to arrest him on the ...

Eric Garner, a 43-year-old African American man, died July 17, 2014, in Staten Island, New York soon after Daniel Pantaleo, a white police officer, put him in a chokehold for about 19 seconds while trying to arrest him on the suspicion of selling cigarettes unlawfully. In a video of the incident, Garner is seen lying face down on the sidewalk surrounded by four officers and heard repeating “I can’t breathe” over and over again. On December 3, 2014, a grand jury decided not to indict officer Pantaleo for the death of Eric Garner even though the New York City Police Department bans the use of the chokehold by officers as a tactic to subdue suspects. This outcome, following the Michael Brown grand jury decision in Missouri, ignited additional public protests and rallies across the country.

Related media stories and editorials:

» “What We See In The Eric Garner Video, And What We Don’t” – NPR
» “Staten Island grand jury: A step-by-step look at how the Eric Garner decision came down” – silive.com
» “Will the Eric Garner case change things?” – CNN
» “The NYPD Cop Who Put Eric Garner In A Chokehold Has A History Of Allegedly Violating Black Men’s Rights” – Business Insider

The Shooting Death of Michael Brown

The shooting of Michael Brown occurred on August 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. Brown, an 18-year-old African American man, was fatally shot by Darren Wilson, 28, a white Ferguson police officer. The disputed circumstances of ...

The shooting of Michael Brown occurred on August 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. Brown, an 18-year-old African American man, was fatally shot by Darren Wilson, 28, a white Ferguson police officer. The disputed circumstances of the shooting, the failure of the grand jury to issue an indictment on November 24, 2014, and the resultant protests and civil unrest have drawn considerable attention nationally, and have sparked debate about law enforcement’s relationship with African Americans, police use of force and racial profiling.

Related media stories and editorials:
» “The Killing of an Unarmed Teen: What We Know About Brown’s Death” – NBCNews
» “Ferguson: A Week After The Death Of Michael Brown” – St. Louis Public Radio
» “Why Ferguson might prompt real change” – Politico
» “Timeline: Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Mo.” – USAToday
» “Ferguson, Still Tense, Grows Calmer” – The New York Times

Automatic License Plate Readers: You Are Being Tracked

Click here for more information on the report A new ACLU report shows that police departments across the country are expanding their use of automatic license plate readers (ALPR’s) to track the location of American drivers. ...

Click here for more information on the report

A new ACLU report shows that police departments across the country are expanding their use of automatic license plate readers (ALPR’s) to track the location of American drivers. Unfortunately, few of these departments have any meaningful rules in place to ensure transparency, or protect the privacy of drivers.

When it comes to ALPR guidelines, Ohio is a mixed bag. The Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) has a good policy, one that requires all license plate records to be deleted immediately if they do not raise any flags. It further specifies that data cannot be collected, stored, or shared for the purpose of data mining. However, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office retains data for 90 days, and public records have not been collected from many other Ohio agencies, making their ALPR policies a mystery.

The OSHP’s ALPR policy proves that law enforcement agencies can still do their jobs while protecting the privacy of innocent people. Ultimately, Ohio needs state legislation that would create similar standards for all law enforcement agencies.

Click here for more information on ALPR’s.

Trayvon Martin Shooting

On February 26, 2012, Florida teenager Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a man who purportedly worked with a local neighborhood watch association. Zimmerman claimed Martin assaulted him, while other witnesses and 911 tapes suggested that Zimmerman ...

On February 26, 2012, Florida teenager Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a man who purportedly worked with a local neighborhood watch association. Zimmerman claimed Martin assaulted him, while other witnesses and 911 tapes suggested that Zimmerman stalked and confronted Martin. Sanford Police Department officials investigated the incident but did not arrest Zimmerman because of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which gives individuals wide latitude to claim self-defense for shootings.

Tends of thousands of people nationwide have protested Trayvon Martin’s death and the subsequent investigation by local law enforcement officers. The ACLU of Florida has publicly questioned the mismanagement of the police investigation. Locally, the ACLU of Ohio rallied with students and activists to call for greater discussion of race and justice issues. One local student wrote a poem in honor of Trayvon Martin.

Good police practices, thorough training, carefully crafted policies, appropriate allocation of resources, and strong political and professional leadership can ensure public safety and prevent abuses in encounters between police officers and citizens.

Download our “Know Your Rights” Publications

Given how complex our nation is, it should come to no surprise how difficult it can be to know each and every one of the legal rights guaranteed to us by the U.S. Constitution. That’s why the ACLU of Ohio ...

Given how complex our nation is, it should come to no surprise how difficult it can be to know each and every one of the legal rights guaranteed to us by the U.S. Constitution. That’s why the ACLU of Ohio has produced these “Know Your Rights” publications on such topics as free speech, voting rights and police practices among other civil liberties issues.

Our list of downloadable publications is available at www.acluohio.org/KYR

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Good police practices, thorough training, carefully crafted policies, appropriate allocation of resources, and strong political and professional leadership can ensure public safety and prevent abuses in encounters between police officers and citizens.

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