Commentary

08.07.19

Cleveland Police Need a Strong Policy to Protect Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Residents

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Police Car

 

Cleveland Division of Police (CDP) is in the midst of adopting comprehensive reforms, as required by a federal consent decree. While not specifically required by the consent decree, at the urging of ACLU of Ohio, Equality Ohio, Trans Ohio, and the Cleveland Community Police Commission, CDP has agreed to create a policy that will instruct officers on best practices for interacting with individuals who are transgender or gender non-conforming. Such a policy is important because, while our society continues to make progress toward equality for transgender and gender nonconforming individuals, these members of our community still face disproportionate levels of violence and harassment, both from fellow citizens and from law enforcement. We applaud the City’s and CDP’s desire to begin addressing these issues with a formal policy.

The policy must be strong, with ample protections for transgender and gender nonconforming Clevelanders. That’s why we sent a letter to Chief of Police Calvin Williams and Monitor Ret. Chief Hassan Aden, urging them to include in the policy:

  • Requirement that officers address people by their preferred name and pronouns (she, her, they, etc.);
  • Collection – with robust training and privacy protections – of data on individuals’ sexual orientation and gender identity, to inform safety initiatives;
  • Prohibition on conducting any type of search, including pat-downs/frisks, to determine a person’s sex or gender;
  • Requirement that, when possible, during any strip search of a transgender, intersex, or gender nonconforming person, the search be conducted by either of three options: (1) a medical provider, (2) a female officer, or (3) an officer of the gender with which the person is most comfortable;
  • Express prohibition against officers discriminating (including by using derogatory terms), harassing, or profiling a person based on their sexual orientation or gender identity; and
  • Comprehensive and ongoing cultural competency training on LGBTQ issues.

Our partners at Equality Ohio and Trans Ohio have also provided input on the policy. As laid out in the Monitoring Plan, CDP is scheduled to create a first draft of the policy to by September 6, 2019. Then, the Monitoring Team and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will review and provide feedback on the first draft by October 4, 2019. From there CDP will incorporate the feedback, where appropriate, and submit a final draft by November 1, 2019. While this timeline does not include a period for stakeholder or community feedback, we will continue to press CDP to collect input on the policy before it is finalized.

Visit www.ClevelandConsentDecree.org to learn more about the reform process.

Read the letter we sent to Chief of Police Calvin Williams and Monitor Ret. Chief Hassan Aden.

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