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Voter findings. The voters of the City of Cleveland find, based on continuing, serial instances of police misconduct, that there is a need to significantly strengthen civilian oversight of the police force, and to hold the police force more accountable; strengthen the police reform initiated by, but grossly insufficient in, the Consent Decree in United States of America v. City of Cleveland, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio Case No. 1:15-cv-2046; institutionalize cultural change within the Division of Police; and reform the arbitration process by which unelected arbitrators who do not reflect the values, concerns, or diversity of the community - and who themselves often do not live in the community and therefore do not personally bear the burden of any problematic police practices - routinely undermine police accountability by reducing or reversing disciplinary decisions.
Commission. The Community Police Commission ("Commission") is permanently established as an independent municipal commission, with an executive director nominated by the Commission and appointed by the Mayor.
Commission membership, eligibility, and appointment categories. The Commission will consist of 13 persons broadly representative of the racial, social, economic, and cultural interests of the community, including those of the racial-minority, immigrant/refugee, LGBTQ+, youth, faith, business, and other communities, to reflect the overall demographics of Cleveland residents. At least two Commission members must represent community organizations focused on civil-rights issues. At least one Commission member must be, represent, or be knowledgeable of, as applicable, the issues of those who are limited-English speakers, homeless, or who have mental-illness and substance-abuse disorders; those who have been directly impacted by police violence, or be a family member of a person who has been killed by police; those who have been incarcerated and exonerated where police were involved in the wrongful conviction or incarceration; gun-violence survivors or be a family member of a person killed by gun violence; an attorney with experience representing victims of police misconduct or criminally prosecuting police misconduct. A single Commission member may fulfill more than one of the above categories. Where feasible, the Mayor will seek to appoint at least one member between the age of 18 to 30 at the time of appointment.
With the exception of no more than three police-association representatives, described below, no member may have served within the five years before appointment as a law-enforcement officer, have ever been an employee of the City's Division of Police or Department of Public Safety, or otherwise have been a City employee within the previous year. The Mayor may appoint no more than three representatives of police associations, including racial-or-ethnic-minority police-labor associations, or these associations' successors recognized by the City. These police-association representatives must have a background relevant to police-community relations and demonstrated connection to their respective associations' membership, and no representative may have a record of police misconduct (whether adjudicated or not), or career records or personal history meriting designation or disclosure under Brady v. United States or Giglio v. United States and their caselaw progeny.
Appointment process and vacancies. The Mayor will appoint 13 members, with the approval of Council by majority vote, for four-year terms, following an open and fair application process.
Three of the members the Mayor appoints will be nominated by Council and, when vacancies arise, the Mayor may designate categories from Subsection (c) above for nomination by Council.
Note: The reference to "Subsection (c) above" was set forth in the language adopted by the voters. As adopted, this section did not contain subsection markers, and the editor has no discretion to revise adopted Charter language.
The Mayor must fill Commission vacancies within 60 days of when they occur. At least 30 days before the process begins, the City must solicit recommendations for membership from community organizations who have interest in police oversight, and post applications prominently on the City's website, City Council website, and through local print, television, radio, and digital media. For appointment of the first Commission after this Section's effective date, the Mayor will divide the appointees into two classes. The first class of seven will have four-year terms and, for the first term only, the second class of six will have a two-year term. After that, all classes will have four-year terms so that approximately half of Commission members are appointed every two years. No Commission member may serve more than four, full, four-year terms.
Non-police-association-representative members. The Mayor may remove any Commission member for malfeasance, misfeasance, nonfeasance, or gross neglect of duty, but must afford any non-police-association-representative Commission member an opportunity for a public hearing before the Mayor, within 30 days after the Mayor has given such member written charges, with a copy filed with the Clerk of Council. An accused non-police-association-representative member will be permitted to respond to the charges in person or through counsel, and have the right to subpoena and present evidence, including documents and witnesses. Removal by the Mayor will be final unless not later than the third meeting of Council after the removal, Council disapproves the removal by an affirmative, two-thirds (2/3) vote of the members elected to Council. There will be no requirement that there be three readings of a resolution to reject the Mayor's removal of the member.
Police-association-representative members. The Mayor may remove any police-association-representative member with or without cause. Likewise, by a simple majority vote of only non-police-association-representative members, the Commission may remove any police-association-representative member, with or without cause. Consistent opposition to police accountability and the Commission's mission and duties should cause such removal.
Vacancies. Vacancies during a term will be filled in the same manner as the original agreed selection process for the unexpired term. Within 30 days of any vacancy on the Commission, including vacancies caused by the end of a term, the City will post an announcement of any vacancy and a request for applications, widely disseminating the information. The Mayor must choose from among the applicants without delay.
Chair. The Commission will select its own chair from among its members by a majority vote, using, at its discretion, a run-off process or rank-order voting should there be more than two candidates for the position.
Duties and Authority of the Commission. The Commission will respond to community needs and concerns regarding regulation of the City's police force and community-police relations through duties including, but not limited to, the following:
Serving as the final City authority on whether the discipline of police officers imposed or not imposed by the Chief of Police, executive head of the police force, or Civilian Police Review Board is sufficient, with the discretionary authority, with due process afforded to a subject officer, to order that the Chief and executive head of the police force increase discipline; and to order that they impose discipline where none was imposed. The Commission may, at its discretion, and upon notice, hold evidentiary hearings to review individual officer discipline following any proceedings and decisions by the Chief of Police, executive head of the police force, and, as applicable, the Civilian Police Review Board. Any order by the Commission to increase or impose discipline will be final and the chief and executive head of the police force must follow it.
Ordering the Chief of Police to decrease discipline of police officers only in circumstances in which the Commission determines that the officer is facing retaliation for protected activity or for whistleblowing about misconduct within the Division of Police. With this exception, nothing in this Section will be construed as conferring a right by any officer to appeal that officer's discipline to the Commission.
Interviewing and recommending candidates for police commander and inspector general to the Mayor.
Compelling, through administrative subpoenas signed by the Commission's chair or Executive Director, the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence, including, but not limited to, from within the City, that the Commission deems necessary for the performance of its duties. The Council may provide by rule the penalty or penalties for contempt in refusing to obey such subpoenas, and the Commission must do so if the Council has not.
Having final authority over establishing the policies, applications, and examinations by which new police recruits must be sought out and recruited and screened, including screening for bias.
Establishing bias-screening and training for existing police officers.
Having final authority over police policies, procedures, and training regimens.
Auditing and verifying police-officer training.
Soliciting, gathering, compiling, organizing, maintaining, and generally updating information on individual police officers whose career records or personal history merit designation or disclosure even reasonably arguably advisable under Brady v. United States or Giglio v. United States and those cases' progeny; ensuring that the Division of Police and municipal, county, state, and federal prosecutors disclose such information at the beginning of the discovery process in all criminal and civil cases in which such officers could be witnesses or are parties; making such information readily publicly accessible on the City's website; and publicizing and devising means of public accountability for failures in the Division of Police, by the Chief of Police, by the Department of Law, by the Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney, or others to track, identify, maintain, organize, and disclose such information. The Commission must undertake this duty as to all current police officers, including information predating this Section's effective date.
Directing the Civilian Police Review Board to independently investigate the conduct of every police officer against whom a lawsuit has been threatened or filed, or for whom the City has paid a settlement to obtain a liability release, or against whom there has been a court judgment for alleged misconduct.
Proposing and advocating for legislation or regulations to Council, the State of Ohio, and other legislative and regulatory authorities, and offering views on the City's, Mayor's, Chief of Police, and Department of Public Safety's legislative agendas consistent with the purposes of this section.
Engaging in community outreach to obtain the perspectives of community members, police organizations, and Division of Police employees on police-community relations, police policies and practices, the police-accountability system, and other matters consistent with the purposes of this section.
Maintaining connection and collaboration with representatives of disenfranchised communities and with other community groups throughout the City, the Community Relations Board, police-district committees, and similarly arranged councils consistent with the purposes of this section.
Providing Division of Police, Office of Professional Standards (OPS), Civilian Police Review Board (CPRB), Internal Affairs (IA), and other City law-enforcement and police-accountability entities with community feedback received through the Commission's public-outreach activities.
Providing technical assistance to the Division of Police, OPS, IA, CPRB, and other City law-enforcement and police-accountability entities, consistent with the purposes of this section.
Exercising independent judgment and offering critical analysis in the performance of their duties without interference or non-cooperation from any person, group, or organization including the Chief of Police, the Director of Public Safety, the Mayor, the executive head of the police force, other Division of Police employees, and other city officials. City employees who violate this provision may be subject discipline, or censure consistent with city and state laws.
Note: The paragraph above was set forth in the language adopted by the voters. The intended language was likely "... may be subject to dismissal, discipline, or....", but the editor has no discretion to revise adopted Charter language.
Requesting and timely receiving, without the need for making a formal public-records request, from other City departments and offices including the Division of Police and Director of Public Safety, information relevant to the Commission's duties that must be disclosed if requested under the Ohio Public Records Act.
Reviewing policy, data, and records to advise the Mayor, the Director of Public Safety, the Chief, the Council, the Director of Law, OPS, the CPRB, and others on policing issues including, but not limited to, police-community relations, police accountability including OPS and CPRB operations, bias-free policing, search and seizure, officer training, police use-of-force policy, data collection and retention, and implementation of other initiatives, programs, and activities intended to support constitutional policing and continuous improvement of policing.
Periodically publishing and distributing factual material, reports, recommendations, and notices as the Commission deems important within its purview as established above.
Performing audits and broad investigations into investigative processes, including audits for quality assurance and adherence to policy and procedure of closed investigations and closed discipline cases of police officers and Division of Police employees.
Identifying and proposing opportunities for systemic improvements in all aspects of police accountability, including, but not limited to, officer-complaint intakes; handling; investigations; use of alternate resolutions like supervisory coaching; mediation; or ordered training; timely notifications to complainants about investigative progress and results; timelines for investigation; discipline; disciplinary appeals; and Brady/Giglio-list protocols.
Accessing un-redacted complaints against officers and unredacted files of all closed investigations, except for information required to be withheld from persons who are not members of criminal-justice agencies under the Ohio Public Records Act or the Ohio Personal Information Systems Act, as they may be amended.
Consistent with federal and state law, protecting from disclosure confidential, non-public records to which the Commission has been provided access.
Engaging outside legal services, at Department of Law expense, when the Commission determines, in its discretion, that there is a conflict of interest between the Commission's mission and representation from the city's Department of Law.
Eliciting public comment on police policy issues.
Making grants to community-based violence-prevention, restorative-justice, and mediation programs to reduce the need for police activity.
Adopting and amending rules for the Commission's procedures, including selecting leadership and any additional articles sufficient for efficient and effective execution of its duties.
Exercising, without limitation, other duties consistent with the Commission's broad purposes of exercising stronger civilian control and accountability over the Division of Police, that are consistent with the Charter.
Full Cooperation by the Chief of Police, Division of Police, and Executive Head of the Police Force Required. The Chief of Police, all Division of Police employees, and the executive head of the police force must fully cooperate with the Commission in performing all of its duties. Failure to do so is a terminable offense and the Commission may seek injunctive relief for failures.
Compensation for Commissioners. The Council must establish annual compensation for Commissioners of no less than $7,200, adjusted annually by the Consumer Price Index, and reimburse reasonable Commission-related business expenses.
Executive Director and Staff. The Commission will nominate its Executive Director to be appointed by the Mayor. The Executive Director will be exempt within the Unclassified Civil Service and may not have ever been a Division of Police employee. The Mayor may only recommend the Executive Director's removal for just cause, subject to confirmation by a vote of 2/3 majority of the Commission. The Commission may also directly initiate removal with or without cause, with a 2/3 majority required for removal. The Executive Director will have at least one assistant and an additional minimum support staff of three classified, non-competitive positions. With support from the Department of Human Resources, the Executive Director will determine appropriate classifications and job descriptions based on operational needs. All such appointments, except one assistant, will be made in conformity with civil-service rules. No Commission employee may have ever been a Division of Police employee.
Duties of the Executive Director. Under the Commission's direction, the Executive Director will have the authority and responsibility to:
Oversee and manage the functions of the Office of the Commission to advance the Commission's mission and perform other public duties as the Commission may prescribe.
Hire, supervise, and discharge employees of the Office of the Commission. Employees of the Office of the Commission will collectively have the requisite credentials, skills, and abilities to help fulfill the Commission's duties set forth in this section.
Execute, administer, modify, and enforce such agreements and instruments as the Executive Director may deem necessary to implement programs and carry out the Commission's duties; apply for grants and donations for Commission programs; and solicit and use volunteer services.
Represent, together with Commissioners, the Commission in providing testimony and expertise to other city departments and offices, commissions, and other organizations regarding issues of constitutional policing.
Create an annual budget and advocate for operational resources. The City will provide additional staff and resources not outlined in this section that it deems sufficient to enable the Commission to perform its duties.
Manage the preparation of the Commission's proposed budget, and submit an annual budget request to the Mayor. The Mayor and Council will appropriate the Office of the Commission's budget in a budget-control level independent of any other City department. The Director of Finance may review the budget request for lawfulness and reasonableness and make recommendations for improvement to the draft budget. No person in the executive branch will exercise discretionary authority to make changes to the proposed budget to which the Commission does not agree. Commissioners and the Executive Director may advocate for resources directly to Council members or the Council during the budget process and throughout the year.
Authorize necessary expenditures, and enter into contracts for professional and other services in accordance with the adopted budget, develop and manage programs, and undertake authorized activities.
Serve as Secretary of the Commission and of any advisory committee or subcommittee the Commission may create.
Regarding regulation of the City's police force and community-police relations: maintain contacts with all community groups concerned with constitutional policing, social justice, and public safety, including police associations; report to the Commission regarding these groups' activities; and serve as a source of accurate and reliable data on issues in the field of community policing, law enforcement, social justice, and racial justice.
Implement the Commission's decisions and, on the Commission's direction, work in cooperation with other City departments, on improvement of law-enforcement services and police accountability; work to remove inequalities that may be related to minority-group or other status related to law enforcement and related matters; conduct educational activities, institutes, meetings, and prepare reading materials, that will lead to better community-police relations.
Exercise such other and further authority and duties as this Section prescribes.
Budget. The Commission's annual budget may not be less than $1,000,000, adjusted annually under the federally established Consumer Price Index (CPI), unless the Commission itself requests a lower budget. Council must increase the Commission's budget by the greater of the CPI or the percentage of increases in the Division of Police's budget. In addition to the amount above (as it may be adjusted), the Commission will receive a budget for its grantmaking to community-based violence-prevention, restorative-justice, and mediation programs that is at least 0.5% of the amount budgeted for the Division of Police.
Open Meetings and Public Comment. Commission meetings will be open to the public, consistent with the Open Meetings Act. The Commission will afford reasonable opportunity for public comment at its meetings.
This Section Controls. Where conflicts exist, this Charter Section supersedes and controls over any previously adopted provisions in the Charter, Cleveland Codified Ordinances, or collective-bargaining agreements.
Consent Decree modification. Upon the effective date of this Section and other police-reform-related Charter sections amended or adopted with it, the Director of Law will move the U.S. District Court to modify the federal Consent Decree in United States v. City of Cleveland to incorporate the amended and new sections and ensure that the voters' intentions are given full effect. If the Director of Law does not file such a motion within 30 days after this Section is adopted, then any City taxpayer is authorized and has standing to do so without making further demand upon the Director of Law as may otherwise be required by the Charter or Ohio law. Until the Decree is modified to incorporate the amended and new sections, the Commission will prioritize fulfilling duties required under the Decree over the additional duties this Section establishes.
(Effective November 2, 2021)