On Friday, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson spoke with Jeff Johnson, guest host of “NewsOne Now” about his State of the City address and his vision for the future of policing in the wake of the Tamir Rice shooting.
Johnson began the interview by asking Mayor Jackson, “How does a mayor bring about a police department that really is about service and not about control?”
“You have to make decisions and set policies that are not political,” Jackson said. “You have to make the hard decisions and those hard decisions don’t go over well even with people who say they want change.”
Johnson pressed the mayor to divulge what one of his hard decisions looked like, to which Mayor Jackson said,
“Accountability is one. As a matter of course there is disparity in the criminal justice system, it is what it is, but when you add a police officer in there, then that disparity gets even greater in terms of how people are treated and how that officer is treated. So you have to have accountability.”
Mayor Jackson told Johnson, “You have to hold people accountable from supervisors who are the main level of accountability — all the way down to patrol people.”
Mayor Jackson continued, “ When you do that, you set a clear [set of] parameters by which people should operate.”
This past December, the Associated Press reported, the U.S. Justice Department released a report on the policing practices of the Cleveland police department. The report concluded “officers too often violated people’s civil rights because of inadequate training and a lack of supervision and accountability.”
After a March, 2013, investigation into the use of force practices by the Cleveland Police following a number of “high profile use of force incidents,” the DOJ returned to investigate the department again in 2014.
The initial investigation raised major concerns and resulted in recommendations that are very similar to the findings of the DOJ’s most recent investigation. The report released by the DOJ in December states:
“The voluntary reforms undertaken at that time did not create the systems of accountability necessary to ensure a longterm remedy to these issues.”
In light of the Department of Justice’s most recent report, Johnson asked Mayor Jackson, “What are some of the things that you have done since the initial DOJ engagement.”
Jackson told Johnson, during his first press conference after he took office in 2006, he told the city of Cleveland, “The use of excessive force will not be tolerated under any circumstances.”
He also said he “instructed public safety and the chief to go out and establish training around protocol, tactics, establish policy around general police orders that would ensure that it was very clear as to what the parameters would be.”
The Mayor later added he intends to make substantive decisions so the things that are done for reform will be long lasting and “will make the real kind of changes that will be institutionalized to ensure that the expectations of service by police will be in place.”
All that and more in this edition of the NewsOne Now Audio Podcast.