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Community Policing Requires More Than Rushing from Call to Call, Chief Says

Cleveland’s police chief says a change of mindset is needed for the department to fulfill its reform agreement with the Justice Department.

Chief Calvin Williams spoke at a meeting of the National Black Prosecutors Association on Monday.

Williams said that for two decades, police have faced pressure to respond quickly to calls, resolve the issue as fast as they can, and then move on to the next call.

But he says the community-oriented policing that the consent decree calls for requires something different: officers taking time to talk with residents.

“I don’t look at response times anymore. I still get the report, but I don’t look at it,” Williams said. “What I look at is, are my officers going to the same house over and over and over. And if they are, why?”

He said schools and social service agencies must be involved, too, to address issues underlying many distress calls, such as drug addiction or mental illness. 

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