AUGUST 27, 2020 PROGRESS UPDATE FROM CHIEF ANNETTE MECKLENBURG TO CITY COUNCIL ON POLICING POLICIES
The Cleveland Heights Police Department remains committed to maintaining and enhancing the trust and confidence of the public we serve. As such, we will continue to provide updates on the progress we are making toward achieving a series of initiatives.
The CHPD strives to improve our outreach efforts, to listen to our residents and provide them with a safe place to live and visit.
We are reviewing Department policies with Lexipol, an independent organization specializing in policing practices, to update current policies as needed and to establish new policies that will improve the Police Department’s Interactions with the public.
As we complete the policies, we are planning to have them reviewed first by experts from the State University’s Diversity Institute and then by the Cleveland Heights Law Department. Once approved by both, we would then release them for review by the public.
If there are policies that are of interest to the public, we are willing to hold special virtual meetings similar to what we do for our monthly Meet Your Police meetings. This would allow the Police Department to explain the policies, answer any questions, and allow for comment and feedback on those policies. Each meeting would focus on one policy as to provide ample time to fully discuss that policy.
It is important to note that this process is time-consuming and we want to make sure that we develop policies that are best for our community.
We have continued to add additional policies to our current policies on the Police Department’s on the Policies and Practices page. All of these policies will be reviewed and updated as needed. We encourage the public to take a look at these policies and provide any comments or questions they may have, and we will take these into consideration while reviewing the policies.
The Police Department has created both compliment and complaint forms that are now available on the City’s website under Police. These forms can be downloaded, filled out, and emailed directly to the Chief of Police at firstname.lastname@example.org. All complaints are logged and assigned to a ranking officer for investigation. The complainant will be contacted and the findings can be shared as the investigation is completed. We also encourage the public to let us know when they have a positive interaction with an officer or the Police Department such as when they provide exemplary service or go above and beyond the call of duty. We want to make sure that officers are recognized for their service to the community.
Several of our current policies have been added to the website and we will continue to add more. If there is a specific policy that someone is looking for, I encourage them to contact the Chief of Police directly and we can look to add that policy to the website.
As requested during our virtual policing forum, we are nearing completion of the collection of race and gender data for all traffic stops in 2019. Once the data is finalized, it will be analyzed and then released to the public. We are also exploring what other data may be available regarding traffic stops in addition to race and gender, such as the types of violations that drivers are most often stopped for. Obtaining this type of data will take more time to compile, but we are committed to transparency and are hopeful to release additional information to the public. We are still on track to have this information available to the public by the end of the year.
Hiring and Recruitment
Currently the Police Department has eight Police Officer vacancies. We are currently in discussions as to how many, if any, of these positions will be filled before the end of the year.
Mental Health & Wellness of Police Officers
Information has been provided to all officers about the availability of services and support organizations that are available to them.
As we continue to develop policies, we are looking to create a policy to ensure our officers are taking advantage of such available programs when needed. In addition, we will be incorporating wellness training into our yearly in-service training for all officers.
Due to the current pandemic, in-person training sessions are not readily available. Therefore, we are exploring various options to ensure that all officers get any necessary training.
All officers are required to complete an online training presentation on “De-Escalating Mental Health Crisis” through the Ohio Peace Officer Training. We had hoped that the training could be completed by August 1st, however due to the demand for this type of training across the state, the site had difficulty handling all the officers interested. Once the training is made available again, the remaining officers will be required to complete it. It is estimated that over half of the Police Department has already completed the training.
We continue to explore the training options available and are confident that all officers will receive additional training in implicit and racial bias and de-escalation techniques by the end of the year.
This month, City Officers engaged in conversation with Dr. Ronnie Dunn and members from the Diversity Institute Team at Cleveland State University. The City requested and received a proposal from CSU Diversity Institute to cover such matters as training, policy analysis, data collection and community engagement. Upon consideration and review of the proposal, the City has decided to move forward and we are currently formalizing the contract. Under the contract, the CSU Diversity Institute will provide the Police Department with the following:
Once the contract is formalized, additional details and updates will be provided to the public.