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Friday, February 20, 2015

For Consent Decree Recommendations, Jackson Has Only to Look at DOJ Website

Posted By on Fri, Feb 20, 2015 at 9:48 AM

In a session with city council Tuesday morning, Mayor Frank Jackson said that too many community groups want a seat at the table in consent decree negotiations with the US Department of Justice.

"Everyone wants to be the one [to make decisions]," Jackson said.

He said that he and the DOJ are still working toward identifying key community organizations to participate, after which time people should have a better handle on who will be involved.

He also said that he's eager to read councilman Matt Zone's report on the "Listening Tours" he hosted to get feedback from concerned citizens in the wake of the deaths of Tamir Rice, Tanisha Anderson, and the DOJ report.

But Jackson need not twiddle his thumbs until Zone completes that report.

The DOJ has been updating its website — more than the City of Cleveland has seen fit to do — with recommendations from local organizations and individual citizens. (Perhaps to nudge Cleveland in the right direction, the DOJ has also provided links to previous consent decrees in Albuquerque, New Orleans, and Seattle).

Councilman Brian Cummins has repeatedly stressed in meetings that other cities have gone through the Consent Decree process before, and that we can and should follow their lead. For the record, when you search "Consent Decree" on the City's Website, no results are found.  

Though Jackson said he won't cave to the demands of territorial community groups, some of whom have recently started exploring his recall, it's not like these groups are proposing wildly divergent solutions to the city's systemic law enforcement problems.

Though some prioritize pet issues — The Collaborative for a Safe, Fair and Just Cleveland thinks that much energy should be devoted to civilian oversight, for example. Cleveland's Hispanic Alliance wants special sensitivity for Latino issues and Spanish-language speakers. The Anti-Defamation League wants a more effective response to hate crimes.

But these are similar themes. 

It's not like the city's kindergartners are proposing Discovery Zones in each police district; nor are the region's transit advocates demanding dedicated bike lanes for police bike chases. Everyone wants roughly the same thing: more transparency, more accountability, more training, less biased, less violent policing.

Reading the 16 recommendation lists currently available and tracking recurring themes would be relatively straightforward. The Listening Tours' will yield similar recommendations.   

Meantime, the city tells us that negotiations are "continuing," with little elaboration, and Jackson continues his crusade to invalidate complaints against law enforcement by abstracting the problems: It's not us, man, it's the system. It's the universe. 

On the media front, the PD's Brent Larkin penned a column this morning calling a potential recall effort "vacuous," that it was the work of "small-minded people" and would certainly cause more harm than good for Cleveland's reputation (not mentioning the damage Cleveland's reputation has already sustained over the past four months). Though I tend to agree with Larkin in principle — if not in tone — one point resonated clearly: the most significant effort right now needs to be preparing a campaign to defeat Jackson in 2017.  


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