A photo of Abby Wilhelm (left), Karl Racine (center) and Ayesha Bell Hardaway (right) updating council on the Cleveland Police Monitoring Team at the May 31, 2023 Cleveland City Council Safety Committee meeting.
Karl Racine (center) and Ayesha Bell Hardaway (right) update council on the Cleveland Police Monitoring Team. Abby Wilhelm, who works with the team, joined them. Credit: Cleveland City Council YouTube

Covered by Documenters Barbara Phipps and Stesia Swain

Coming to the table: Members of Cleveland City Council’s Safety Committee met with representatives from the Cleveland Police Monitoring Team. The team reports to a federal judge on the city’s compliance with the 2015 federal consent decree. Deputy Monitor Ayesha Bell Hardaway and new Lead Monitor Karl Racine met with council. Meeting with City Council was a step forward in the eyes of Committee Chair Mike Polensek. He said the previous lead monitor, Hassan Aden, refused to appear at a meeting and that the body considered issuing a subpoena

Compliance isn’t just a number: Council members asked the team questions about what level of compliance would end the consent decree. The team stressed that progress was fluid in the 340 areas measured. The monitoring team released its 12th progress report in March. Council Member Stephanie Howse shared that the Community Police Commission created a resident-friendly summary that said the police department was about 39% of the way toward full compliance. On June 12, the consent decree will have been in effect for eight years.

Council Member Brian Kazy asked if there was a specific number that would mark compliance. He also wondered if the city can accomplish parts of the consent decree, check the box, and move on.

Enacting transformational change and instituting constitutional policing is more complicated than checking a box, Hardaway explained. If the city believes it has made substantial progress, it can request an assessment, according to Racine. The decision to end the consent decree rests with U.S. District Court Judge Solomon Oliver, Jr.

Make space for resident voices: In 2014, a Cleveland police officer shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was playing with an airsoft gun. Samaria Rice, Tamir’s mother, attended this meeting to make a public comment. She left before having the chance to do so. Howse said the committee should allow public comment at the beginning of hearings. Community members should not have to wait hours for a few minutes of mic time, Howse said. She added that incidents such as the fatal shooting of Tamir Rice are why they had that meeting.

Want a quick rundown of the agencies involved in police oversight? Documenter Barbara Phipps shared this two-page guide from the City of Cleveland. Also, the Community Police Commission held a community meeting on May 24. Leaders of Hispanic and Black police unions discussed their experiences. Documenter Nani Faye Palmer has the details.

Read the Twitter thread by Documenter Stesia Swain:

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Assignment Editor (he/him)
Doug, a Cleveland Documenter since 2020, has been a copy editor and reporter. His work includes: The Pace of Passage about how quickly Cleveland City Council passes legislation; a look at the challenges of the city’s Exterior Home Paint program; and University Circle Police Department’s complaint-review process. Doug has also written explainers and guides and launched #CLEDocsAnswers, which answers questions Documenters have about local government.