Cleveland Catch-Up

Julia Bianco, News Editor

We boil down what happened in Cleveland this week.

“60 Minutes” looks at excessive force and the Cleveland Police

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams denied the use of excessive force on CBS’ “60 Minutes” last Sunday, saying that the department had “issues” but that they “are working diligently both with the Department of Justice and with the community to make sure that we correct those things.”

Williams appeared on the show to discuss a report from the Department of Justice (DOJ) that determined that the Cleveland Police Department “engages in a pattern or practice of the use of excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson’s office also released a statement on the DOJ’s report, saying that the mayor “does not agree with everything in the report. He has said that he sees the report as an opportunity for the city to address issues that have been identified. He does not believe that the DOJ report fully addresses the very complex subject of the criminal justice system and policing.”

The statement also said that the statistics show “a downward trend in the use of all types of force over the past nine years.”

Williams also discussed the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was shot by Cleveland Police officer Timothy Loehmann in November.

“What makes it even more difficult for me—not just as a person that lives in the city but as a chief—is that that happened at the hands of a police officer,” said Williams on Rice’s death.

He also added that the department is continuing to look into the hiring of Loehmann, the officer who shot Rice. Loehmann was rejected at multiple police departments before being hired by Cleveland. He also received a negative written evaluation from his previous job at the Independence Police Department, where his supervisor said that he “could not follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thoughts nor recollections and his handgun performance was dismal.”

Cleveland Police get body cameras

In related news, Cleveland recently bought 1,500 body-mounted cameras for police officers. The community has been calling for cameras for a long time, but the requests intensified following Rice’s death and other instances of police brutality across the nation.

The Cleveland City Council approved legislation in October that gave the Police Department $1.6 million to buy cameras.

Officers will be responsible for charging their cameras and for setting them to record when needed, a fact that was met with controversy. Many critics want the cameras to be recording at all times.

Police Chief Calvin Williams said in October that he would regularly monitor the videos to review officers’ conduct.