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Police Department

Posted on: July 15, 2020

Progress Statement from Chief of Police Annette Mecklenburg on Policing Policies

PROGRESS UPDATE FROM CHIEF ANNETTE MECKLENBURG
 TO CITY COUNCIL ON POLICING POLICIES (July 15, 2020)

Trust between the Cleveland Heights Police Department and the citizens we protect and serve is essential in the City of Cleveland Heights.  Recognizing the changing and diverse needs of the community, the Police Department pledges to establish and maintain high performance standards to ensure public confidence and trust.  We encourage and expect the participation of the community and City leaders in facilitating solutions to issues of mutual concern.  We solicit and welcome contributions from all members of our community and we support a climate of mutual trust and respect.

In light of recent events, the Police Department wants to reassure all our residents that we are committed to striving toward the best practices in law enforcement.  We are committed to keeping the community informed about the progress we are making and providing updates along the way.  The following are intended to highlight the efforts the Police Department is currently focused on and when we expect to complete these initiatives.

Statements of Purpose

  • The Cleveland Heights Police Department condemns all acts of excessive force and racially biased policing in the country.
  • Our country suffers from a history of racism and while police officers are not the root cause of this we are also not immune from the impacts of our shared past.
  • We encourage and expect input and participation of the community in facilitating solutions to problems of mutual concern.
  • We solicit and support contributions from all members of our community.
  • Recognizing the changing and diverse needs of the community, we pledge to establish and maintain high performance standards to ensure public confidence and trust.
  • Police work is an honorable and noble profession and now more than ever we recognize the ongoing need to continue recruiting and retaining police officers who are diverse, representative of the community in which they serve, and have the commitment to uphold our laws and ordinances with fairness and impartiality.

Department Policies

  • The Police Department is in the process of revising and updating our current policies and procedures, along with developing new policies.  To facilitate this process, we are contracting with Lexipol, who is currently being used by over 460 law enforcement agencies across the state of Ohio, and thousands more across the United States. In addition to assisting us customize our policies and procedures, Lexipol will provide officers with daily training bulletins, access to online courses and training videos, and grant writing services.  All of these services will be available 24/7 through desktop computers, in-vehicle computers, and smartphones.  We are expecting to have a contract in place by the end of July.
  • In the meantime, the Police Department is currently developing an amendment to our Use of Force policy that will incorporate the following:
    1. A ban on chokeholds and strangleholds.
    2. A requirement that officers employ de-escalation techniques when safe and feasible to do so.
    3. A requirement that officers intervene against the use of excessive force by other officers and report such incidents to their immediate supervisor.
    4. A requirement that officers complete a comprehensive use of force report whenever they point their firearm at someone, in addition to all other types of force which are currently required to be reported.
  • It is expected that these updated requirements will become part of the Use of Force Policy within the next couple of weeks and Officers will receive training on them thereafter.

  • The Police Department has revised its Bias-Free Policing Policy to include the following:
    1. Requirement that officers report to their supervisor any instances of bias-based policing that they are aware of or witness and that such allegations will be forwarded to the Chief of Police for investigation.
    2. Requirement that data shall be maintained relating specifically to complaints of biased based poling and an annual review of the Police Department’s practices and concerns related to bias-based profiling be conducted on an annual basis.
    3. Requirement that Police Supervisors monitor officers for any behavior that may conflict with the Bias-Free Policing Policy and report any alleged or observed violation to the Chief of Police immediately.
    4. Requirement that no retaliatory action will be tolerated against any officer who discloses information concerning bias-based policing.
    5. Requirement that data be collected concerning race and gender of all self-initiated traffic stops and an annual review of this data is to be conducted and made available to the public.
    6. Requirement that corrective measures shall be used to address violations of this policy.
  • The Policy is currently under the review by the Law Department and upon approval, all police officers will receive training on the mandates outlined in the policy.

  • The Police Department met with a representative of the Ohio Collaborative to present policies and documentation that demonstrate our compliance with the required State standards.  Once approved, we will receive final certification on Group 1 Standards and Provisional Certification on Group 2 Standards.  The four policies being reviewed in Groups 1 and 2 include:
    1. Use of Force/Deadly Force
    2. Employee Recruitment and Hiring
    3. Community Engagement
    4. Body Worn Cameras
  • The Police Department is continuing to make progress on developing policies to meet the Standards required for Groups 3 and 4.  It is expected that the following three policies that make up Groups 3 and 4 will be completed and submitted to the Ohio Collaborative within the next six months:
    1. Bias-Free Policing
    2. Investigation of Employee Misconduct
    3. Vehicle Pursuits

Accountability

  • The Cleveland Heights Police Department supports the termination and possible de-certification of Police Officers under the following specified conditions:
    1. Police Officers convicted of any felonies.
    2. As determined by the Police Department and Public Safety Director based on a history of egregious misconduct including multiple sustained complaints and/or violations of policies and procedures, or conviction of specified misdemeanors.
    3. Every police officer should be afforded the right to due process as guaranteed in their collective bargaining agreement to maintain fairness and justice.
  • The Police Department is developing forms that will be made available on the City’s website for citizens to register a compliment or a complaint against an officer.
  • Support tracking information related to police officers that resign in lieu of discipline or termination, or those with multiple sustained complaints and/or violations of policies and procedures.
  • Support, upon request of a local agency, mandating that an outside agency such as the Ohio Attorney General, investigate incidents involving the use of deadly force.
  • The Police Department supports input from the community.  Thus far, we have we have hosted a virtual Meet Your Police Town Hall to address citizen questions and concerns and we will participate in a Youth Forum on July 11, 2020.  We intend on keeping these lines of communications open and working together to find opportunities for improvement.

Transparency

  • The Police Department supports having all law enforcement policies and procedures made available to the public.  Currently there are five policies posted on the City’s website and we will continue to add to the list. 
  • The Police Department supports the collection of data regarding the race and gender of all persons arrested and stopped for a traffic violation and the requirement that the data collected be made available to the public on an annual basis.  The Police Department began collection of this data in 2019 and we are currently in the process of reviewing and analyzing the data.  It is expected that the data will be made available by the end of 2020.

Hiring and Recruitment

  • The Police Department vows to improve ongoing efforts to recruit and hire diverse police candidates
  • The Police Department supports reviews and audits of our hiring process, psychological assessments of potential candidates, and other standards currently being utilized to identify the best candidates

Mental Health & Wellness of Police Officers

  • The Police Department is currently looking to implement regular mental health and wellness checks for all police officers.
  • The Police Department supports additional funding for programs to improve police officer’s mental health and wellness.
  • The Police Department is currently providing information to all police officers to ensure they have access to mental health practitioners and peer support organizations.

Training

  • The Police Department fully supports regular training in the following areas:
    1. Implicit and racial bias training
    2. De-escalation techniques as alternatives to deadly force
    3. Cultural diversity
  • The Police Department recently mandated that all officers complete an online training presentation “De-Escalating Mental Health Crises.”  The presentation is sponsored through the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and focuses on mental illness and a variety of de-escalation techniques officers can employ when interacting with those suffering from a mental health crisis.  All officers are expected to complete this training by August 1, 2020.
  • The Police Department vows to continue exploring various other training options available for the above areas to ensure that police officers receive the best training available.  It is our goal to have additional training scheduled within the next six months.

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