CLEVELAND – Cleveland’s mayor and police chief gave an update on the Nov. 29 chase turned fatal shooting in the city, asking for an outside agency to investigate future use of force cases.
Mayor Frank Jackson said hiring an outside agency to do the investigations into fatal shootings, firing at or in the direction of people, air strikes, use of sleeper holds and the like, would give the public confidence that what happened was transparent and was credible.
“It’s always best to have another set of eyes looking at it,” Jackson explained. The question now which agency would do it and how would the department handle it.
“We value the trust and credibility we’ve developed in the past seven years between the police department and the community. It’s essential to our process of reviewing things,” said Jackson.
The use of deadly force incident on Nov. 29 raised some questions, Jackson and Cleveland police chief Mike McGrath said. While the criminal review process is still ongoing, the city and department continue to look at how they handle use of force situations.
On Nov. 29, authorities fired 137 rounds at Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell Jr., killing them both. Officers said they thought they heard a shot fired outside the Justice Center, which prompted the 20 minute chase that led to the shooting and ended in East Cleveland.
McGrath has requested the review be completed by the end of January.
Cleveland police have also requested an external review of its policies and procedures to determine if they use best practices. They haven’t yet received an answer from the Department of Civil Rights Division.
Meanwhile, the Police Executive Research Forum — PERF — has been reviewing the department’s policies and procedures. PERF found CPD’s policies were “sound and comprehensive,” but suggested some changes.
“We are complying with — and are in the process of — drafting and changing some of our police orders,” McGrath said, adding that PERF suggested the department conduct administrative and criminal reviews together to bring an end to family’s questions and to “reach a conclusion.”
Jackson said if officers were found to be in compliance, they have nothing to worry about. But if they didn’t follow proper police protocol, there will be appropriate consequences.
“Our policy and procedure compliance, policy relative to national standards, did we comply with and were training standards up to par to make the best decisions.” McGrath said those are the questions needing answers.
The facts of the investigation “will be made public” officials said.
“Once the criminal investigation is complete, we’ll get a copy and the committee will go through it to make sure we’re in compliance with all policies and procedures,” explained McGrath.
“We think we’ve done a good job in the past, but for us to maintain and ensure transparency and trust between the division of police and the public, people need to be sure it’s above the process,” Jackson said.
He doesn’t want police officers on the job thinking they’re not being treated fairly. Nor does he want the community thinking something won’t be done fairly. The investigations and looking to an outside agency, Jackson believes, will ensure all is being done fairly.