CLEVELAND—Friday, May 26th 2017, marks two years since the city of Cleveland signed an agreement, or consent decree, committing to make major changes to its police department. This anniversary comes on the heels of Jeff Sessions’ order that the Department of Justice review all existing police reform agreements, including Cleveland’s, raising concerns that the DOJ could withdraw or lessen its support from these much-needed reforms.

“It is quite ironic that Attorney General Sessions claims to support law enforcement, yet has continually turned a blind eye to the real problems in our police department.” said Mike Brickner, senior policy director at the ACLU of Ohio. “No one is safe when officers don’t have access to basic equipment and technology, and when both officers and community members have to wait as long as four years to have complaints resolved. Constitutional policing reforms make law enforcement’s job easier and also promote safety in our communities.”

In a 2014 report, the DOJ found widespread evidence of excessive use of force and a lack of accountability for officer misconduct. Recently, there have been setbacks in implementation of reforms by the city of Cleveland and DOJ. The independent monitor recently raised concerns about a backlog of 800 unresolved civilian complaints dating back to 2014. The City is also reneging on its prior pledge to pilot body-worn cameras for off-duty officers working a second job.

“Only two years into this process, it is not time to back down from reform,” said Brickner. “The recent wavering by Cleveland officials and the lack of leadership from the DOJ is a step backward for police and Cleveland residents alike.”


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