By Rich Weiss, for Neighborhood & Community Media Association of Greater Cleveland
The Neighborhood and Community Media Association of Greater Cleveland is providing monthly reports on a series of community conversations about the 2015 Consent Decree negotiated between the US Department of Justice and the City of Cleveland regarding the policies and practices of the Cleveland Police Department.
“This question comes from a fellow student here at Tri-C. He asks in what ways can the policies instated by the Consent Decree be proactive rather than just reactive?”
“Based on research, it was discovered that police officers may hold unconscious biases against minority youth and make assumptions about them based on their age, their race, their dress style, appearance, and other parameters—sometimes Black folks look older than their age. My question is how do we practically reconcile this unhealthy sentiment while ensuring it’s a saner, a safer, and a happy society?”
“Do you believe the Cleveland Consent Decree has prepared police officers to carry out their tasks safely and effectively in such a unique time?”
“What things specifically are being done to have officers engaging and becoming more relatable to the community?”
“Can you file a complaint with the department if they feel like they’re they have an encounter with the officer that was inappropriate?”
“How do Cleveland Police Officers feel about what has been happening, for example last year, and then the overall police brutality, and what steps are you taking to make sure that these things do not happen in the city of Cleveland?”
These were among the questions asked by three Scholars of Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Scholars Academy during the last conversation held online seeking public input on Cleveland’s Consent Decree. The October meeting focused on “Youth and Policing.”
Zri Hitchcock, a recent graduate of Tri-C, was asked as the youngest member of the panel to help people understand the thinking of young people when they see or interact with a Cleveland police officer.
She replied, “First, I’ll say it’s a lot of distrust. I know for a fact that a lot of the distrust comes from not just personal experience, but also experiences that we see other people have. Typically, when we see other young people dealing with the police it’s never just…a police officer coming to a school and just talking to the kids and just introducing themselves. [It’s] someone getting arrested for drugs or someone…being harassed—like a stop-and-frisk situation—and even further than that: actual media representation of how police and young people deal with one another. That can cause a barrier between police and youth where it’s like, ‘Okay, I don’t trust you because I’ve seen the way you’ve dealt with people who look like me. And you don’t trust me based off of the people who are my age that you’ve dealt with…and with the media showing you about me…so we’re both in this weird case where we’re both being biased toward one another not necessarily just off of personal experience, but off of everything else that we’re seeing about one another.”
See the full Cleveland Consent Decree Conversation #10 here: https://youtu.be/zaLBvQyBwzA
The next meeting in the series is Wednesday, November 10, at 6:00 pm. The topic will be “Community Engagement, Recruitment and Diversity.”
Join United Way of Greater Cleveland and Cleveland NAACP on November 10 for a discussion on Community Engagement, Recruitment, and Diversity. In this final monthly public conversation in this important, 11-month series on the police reforms mandated by the Cleveland Consent Decree. Panelists will include Detective Felton Collier, City of Cleveland – City Hall; Kareem Henton, Black Lives Matter Cleveland; Michelle Heyer, Department of Justice; Director Karrie Howard, City of Cleveland – City Hall; Earl Ingram, Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio/Cleveland; Victor Ruiz, of Esperanza and the Cleveland Police Monitoring Team. This event will be moderated by Darrielle Snipes, Multimedia Journalist for Cleveland Metropolitan School District News Bureau. Register here: https://bit.ly/3tjhWbo.
The Consent Decree between the City of Cleveland and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) mandated a Community Police Commission (CPC) be established to bring community input in the process of police reform. The Commission’s charge is to win crucial community input on police practices to help ensure “that police services in Cleveland are delivered in a manner that is constitutional, effective, and consistent with community values, while preserving officer and public safety.”
The public is invited and encouraged to participate in these sessions to help in the monitoring process. These conversations, sponsored by United Way of Greater Cleveland and the Cleveland NAACP, are conducted via Zoom on the second Wednesday of each month.