NOVEMBER 16, 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 towards a series of initiatives.
The CHPD continues to strive for improved outreach efforts, to listen to our residents and to provide them with a safe place to live and visit.
The CHPD is continuing to review and develop Police 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.
We dedicate time each week for policy review and development. Currently, we have reviewed approximately 45 out of over 160 policies and are confident that many of these will be finalized soon. As we complete the policy reviews, those policies mutually agreed upon as most essential will be reviewed and analyzed first by experts from Cleveland State University’s Diversity Institute and then by the Cleveland Heights Law Department. Once finalized, two community town hall meetings will be held to allow residents the opportunity to provide feedback on the policies.
All other policies, once approved by the Law Department if required, will be posted on the City’s website for community members to view. If there are certain policies that are of particular interest to the community, members of the Police Department are willing to hold special meetings during which we can provide more detail and explanation about the policies and to allow for questions and comments from the community.
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. While we are trying to move quickly to complete this process, it will likely take a few more months before completion.
We continue to add new policies to our current policies on the Police Department’s page on the City’s website https://www.clevelandheights.com/1302/Policies-and-Practices. 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 the Police link. 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.
Thus far we have received very few complaints and compliments from people utilizing these forms. However, we continue to receive emails and phone calls from residents expressing concerns or appreciation. These forms of communication are perfectly acceptable and we appreciate the feedback we receive from the community. So please continue to let us know about your experience with the members of the Police Department using whatever form of communication is best for you. We are always looking for ways to improve our services and appreciate the feedback. Feedback and questions can also be shared during our monthly Meet Your Police Meetings on the first Thursday of each month.
On November 5, 2020, the Police Department received Final Certification for our Community Engagement and Body Worn Camera policies (Group 1) and Final Recertification for our Use of Force and Recruitment and Hiring policies (Group 2) through the Ohio Collaborative. The Ohio Collaborative was established in 2014 after a series of incidents in Ohio and around the nation that highlighted the challenges between the community and the police. The Ohio Collaborative established new state standards that hold everyone accountable and instill a greater confidence with the public. All law enforcement agencies are expected to meet or exceed these new standards as they develop policies and procedures to meet these new expectations.
With the achievement of Group 1 and Group 2 Standards, we will now be focusing our efforts to obtain certification of the Group 3 and Group 4 Standards. The Group 3 Standards include Bias Free Policing and Investigation of Employee Misconduct policies. The Group 4 Standard is focused on Vehicle Pursuits policy. At least a couple of these policies require the collection and analysis of data so we anticipate it will be a few more months before we can obtain certification. However, we do expect that that the revision of our current policies will be complete earlier.
Additional information about the Ohio Collaborative and the requirements that must be met to achieve certification for each of the Standards can be found at https://www.ocjs.ohio.gov/ohiocollaborative/index.html.
Several of our current policies have been added to the website and we will continue to add to them. If there is a specific policy that someone is looking for, I encourage anyone to contact the Chief of Police directly and we can look to add that policy to the website.
We have completed the collection of our race and gender data for traffic stops conducted during 2019. This data will be turned over to Cleveland State’s Diversity Institute very soon so that they can analyze the traffic ticketing patterns and generate a report based on their findings. Once this report is complete, we will share it with the community.
We continue to hold virtual Meet Your Police meetings from 6:00 – 8:00 pm on the first Thursday of each month. The past few months we have had minimal participation in these meetings. We encourage residents to contact us by phone during these meetings to discuss any concerns or questions anyone may have for the Police Department. If you are unable to participate, residents can email us at email@example.com to ask questions or request information. We are also willing to schedule a meeting at a date and time more convenient for you if necessary.
Hiring and Recruitment
Currently the Police Department has ten Basic Patrol Officer vacancies. We are currently accepting applications for these positions and our goal is to have at least five of them filled by the end of the year and the remaining five by the end of January, 2021. Anyone who is interested in applying for the position is encouraged to check out the job posting and requirements on the City’s website https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/clvhts.
Mental Health & Wellness of Police Officers
The CHPD just completed our yearly in-service jail training and as a part of that training, officers received additional information about the many services and support organizations that are available to them.
Due to the current pandemic, in-person training sessions are not as readily available for police officers. Therefore, we are exploring various options to ensure that all officers get any necessary training. Below are some training courses that we have scheduled for the remainder of 2020:
The Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy offers a variety of courses online for law enforcement. Over the next two months, all Officers are required to complete the following three training sessions:
Following the completion of these training sessions, we will look to find additional relevant courses that officers can take online.
The City has entered into a contract with the Diversity Institute at Cleveland State University to provide training to all Police Officers in the Department. During the months of November and December, all officers will be participating in an 8-hour Cultural Competency and Implicit Bias workshop. The curriculum will cover the following:
The workshop will engage officers in an experiential learning process using various participatory exercises, dialogue, audiovisual images and videos, and hands-on dynamic simulated scenario (if able).
We continue to explore available training options and are in the process of developing in-service training for all officers in early 2021.