Issue 24 changes to the Cleveland consent decree pushed back to March

Two Cleveland mounted police officers on horseback riding through city streets
Cleveland police officers at the December groundbreaking for the new police headquarters. [Matthew Richmond / Ideastream Public Media]

The city of Cleveland and U.S. Department of Justice are asking for another month to come up with a plan for changing the police consent decree to comply with Issue 24, now known as Section 115 of the city charter.

Putting Section 115 in place requires expanding the authority given to the community police commission. The DOJ had proposed Friday as a deadline to reach an agreement with the city but instead asked for an extension until March 16.

“We have made meaningful progress toward this goal,” lawyers for the Justice Department wrote. “These issues are of great significance to the Cleveland community, the protection of civil rights, and the provision of public safety, however, and the Parties are continuing to work to ensure that the rights protected by the Agreement and the will of the voters of Cleveland are respected.”

Under the consent decree, the CPC was limited to advising the city on police reforms and gathering community input. Section 115 gives the CPC authority over police discipline, policies and recruiting.

In a December filing, outgoing Mayor Frank Jackson’s administration spelled out the ways it considered the new law in conflict with the consent decree, police union contract and state law. But the city’s lawyers did not propose to the court any ways to fix those conflicts.

Since Mayor Justin Bibb took office, the city of Cleveland has not commented publicly on its plans for creating the new commission.

The federal judge overseeing the agreement, which also covers policies on use of force, community policing, search and seizure and other topics, has scheduled a March 17 hearing on the proposed modifications.

The parties will also discuss recent reports by the police monitor, Hassan Aden, on the city’s investigation into the 2019 death of 13-year-old Tamia Chappman and three recent hires by the department that, according to the monitor, did not meet the consent decree’s requirements.

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