"The State of OPS is Dire" and Other Highlights from Police Monitoring Team Report

click to enlarge "The State of OPS is Dire" and Other Highlights from Police Monitoring Team Report
Sam Allard / Scene
Chief among the "notable challenges" mentioned in the Cleveland Police Monitoring Team's first semiannual report, released Thursday, was the Office of Professional Standards (OPS). That civilian-led office is charged with investigating external (civilian) complaints about CPD officers, and it's work, per the report, has been "unacceptable and irresponsible by any measure." 

The OPS has a staggering backlog of incomplete cases, for one thing, (202 from 2014 and 225 from 2015). For another, a revised manual that it produced for the Monitoring Team as mandated by the Consent Decree was "deficient in every regard — lacking rigor, containing inaccurate information, failing to address numerous Consent Decree requirements and omitting a host of material details."

So foundational are the deficiencies discovered within the OPS that the Monitoring team, (with the support of the city of Cleveland and the Department of Justice) will create a sub-group to conduct an "in-depth microscopic review of OPS and its functions," with the goal of developing an "emergency organizational transformation plan."

Additionally, on the "challenges" front: The roll-out of a new records management system, called LERMS, was "immediately plagued by significant problems." That led to an extreme backlog of police records not entered into the system. Though city personnel are reportedly working steadfastly to reduce the number (from as many as 12,000 to about 7,600), the Monitoring Team has advised that the CPD must "commit to rigorously implementing mainstream project management structures going forward." 

There was much to celebrate, though. 

Most importantly, the report notes "tremendous progress" on the development of a core Use of Force policy. Multiple drafts for that policy have been thoroughly discussed by CPD leadership and the Monitoring team, and community engagement on a final draft is expected to take place in late July or early August (after the RNC has wrapped up). 

Additionally, CPD has identified prioritized trainings for police personnel in 2016 which include standard state-required re-certification training, training on a new database system called Blue Team, and eight hours of crisis intervention training. When the new Use of Force policy goes live, (tentatively in the fall) training will be required on that as well. 

The report acknowledges that the crisis intervention work, conducted by a 50-member Advisory Committee of community members, has been challenging, but a work plan has been submitted that addresses this area through January, 2017. The group is "on track to deliver a comprehensive, revised set of crisis intervention policies at a noteworthy pace." 

The Community Police Commission has produced written work that the monitoring report says demonstrates "a very high level of quality." The report also notes — as Scene certainly has — that the CleCoPoCo meetings have often been contentious, rife with heated debates. But the Monitoring team report suggests that those debates are signs "of strength and progress, not impotence or dysfunction."

"Indeed," the report says, "the Commission must perpetually strive to create an environment at its meetings where the Cleveland community can passionately disagree when warranted while assuring a respectful tone that promotes participants listening to views different than their own."

Over the next six months, the report says, the Monitoring Team will focus on community and problem-oriented policing, use of force inquiries, and bias-free policing.  

In a note, the lead Monitor himself, Matthew Barge says that both Mayor Frank Jackson and police Chief Calvin Williams have been "deeply engaged" in the day-to-day, week-to-week efforts toward reform. 
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About The Author

Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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