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Cleveland Wants Outside Firm To Investigate Backlog Of Citizen Complaints About Police

Cleveland plans to contract with outside investigators to help clear its backlog of citizen complaints about police.

The city outlined its plan in a filing in federal court Friday as part of its reform agreement with the Justice Department.

Last month, a federal judge told the city to come up with this new plan, after the monitor overseeing the consent decree said Cleveland wasn’t on the right track.

The city reported a backlog in its Office of Professional Standards (OPS) of 218 open cases from 2015 and 2016, and 160 from this year. Often, those cases are prompted by citizen complaints about unprofessional conduct, improper procedure, harassment or other alleged problems with officers.

The city expects to find an outside firm to take over work on the backlog by the beginning of March next year.

In the meantime, the plan says Cleveland will divide its investigators into three teams. One group will keep working on old cases and take some new ones. Two other groups will stay on top of cases that come in next year.

“The Plan requires that investigations for complaints received in 2018, unless otherwise specified, will take no longer than four months to be completed,” the city’s filing reads.

According to the filing, the city issued body cameras to investigators “for the purpose of better ensuring that OPS investigators have available audio and video recording capabilities when working at locations remote from the OPS offices.”

The city also plans to add two investigators to the 12 it already employs. 

Cleveland plans to hire a new administrator for the Office of Professional Standards after reassigning the previous boss to other city work, according to the filing. 

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