CLEVELAND, OH — Today the ACLU of Ohio released a statement urging Cleveland to continue on a path of reform and reject recent developments that would disrupt progress: participation in the DOJ’s National Public Safety Partnership, and the possible reinstatement of Timothy Loehmann, the officer who killed Tamir Rice.

“Cleveland must move forward, not backward. Both the NPSP and Loehmann lack transparency and accountability and have a history to prove it. Joining the NPSP and allowing Loehmann to return to work will dismantle the progress our City and our police department have made in recent years,” said Jocelyn Rosnick, Advocacy Director for the ACLU of Ohio.

Last week the Tamir Rice Foundation sent a letter to Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association (CPPA) expressing opposition to its continued fight to reinstate Loehmann. Loehmann, who shot and killed twelve-year-old Tamir Rice in 2014, was fired in 2017 for failing to disclose that he’d been forced to resign from a neighboring police department.

“Loehmann was unfit to serve when Cleveland hired him. Not only did he not disclose his past employment history to Cleveland, but Cleveland did not have proper policies and practices in place to ensure candidates’ backgrounds were checked,” said Jocelyn Rosnick, Advocacy Director for the ACLU of Ohio.

The NPSP was established in 2017 in response to President Trump’s Executive Order on a Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety. Both Toledo and Cincinnati were selected for the initiative in 2017, and the ACLU of Ohio opposed their participation as well.

“The same DOJ that has made it clear it does not view police reform as a priority now wants to offer ‘technical support’ to Cleveland police in ‘aggressively’ pursuing crime. City officials should be highly skeptical,” said Emma Keeshin, Advocacy Manager for the ACLU of Ohio “Clevelanders need safety and accountability from its public servants – not dragnet style policing, aggressive enforcement of drug laws, and targeting of vulnerable communities,” she continued.

The ACLU of Ohio sent a letter to Mayor Frank Jackson of Cleveland, urging him to reject this partnership with the DOJ. Additional organizations also signed the letter, including the Cleveland Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, InterReligious Task Force on Central America, Cleveland Chapter of the NAACP, Ohio Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, Ohio Immigrant Alliance, and Ohio Student Association.

The ACLU of Ohio has also recently called for independent, civilian oversight of CDP after the consent decree ends, and is mobilizing its members to contact Cleveland City Council on the topic.