University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name United States v. City of Cleveland PN-OH-0008
Docket / Court 1:15-cv-01046 ( N.D. Ohio )
State/Territory Ohio
Case Type(s) Policing
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
In March 2013, following a series of highly-publicized use-of-force incidents involving the Cleveland Division of Police (CDP), the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) opened an investigation pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 42 U.S.C. � ... read more >
In March 2013, following a series of highly-publicized use-of-force incidents involving the Cleveland Division of Police (CDP), the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) opened an investigation pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 42 U.S.C. § 14141, that focused on the CDP's use of force, including deadly force. This was the second investigation conducted by the DOJ into the CDP's practices in a little over ten years, as the DOJ had previously reached a memorandum of agreement with the City in 2004. (That investigation can be found at PN-OH-0007 in this Clearinghouse.) On December 4, 2014, the DOJ issued a findings letter revealing that the CDP was engaged in a pattern or practice of using excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Specifically, the DOJ claimed that structural deficiencies and practices, including insufficient accountability, inadequate training and equipment, ineffective policies, and inadequate engagement with the community, contributed to the CDP's use of excessive force.

As an initial step to address these findings, the DOJ and the City of Cleveland signed a statement of principles committing to developing a court-enforceable consent decree. On May 25, 2015, after the City agreed to the finalized terms of the consent decree, the DOJ filed the complaint for this action along with a joint motion for entry of the agreed upon consent decree.

The consent decree outlined a series of reforms that the City of Cleveland and CDP would undertake:
  • Establish a Community Police Commission and District Police Committees, made up of community members, to increase community engagement and build trust.

  • Develop and implement a community and problem-oriented policing model.

  • Develop a bias-free policing policy and develop training to promote bias-free policing.

  • Revise, develop, and implement force policies, training, supervision, and accountability systems to ensure that force is lawfully used.

  • Ensure that investigatory stops, searches, and arrests were conducted lawfully.

  • Ensure that allegations of officer misconduct were adequately investigated and that officers who committed misconduct were held accountable through the establishment of the Office of Professional Responsibility and the Police Review Board.

The parties agreed that a monitor would be appointed by the court to implement the consent decree. The parties also agreed that the consent decree would be terminated once the city was in "substantial and effective compliance" with the search and seizure provisions for one year and with all other provisions for two years.

On June 12, 2015, U.S. District Judge Simon Oliver, Jr. granted the motion for entry of the consent decree, finding that the settlement was "fair, reasonable, and adequate."

On June 29, 2015, various groups including the Cleveland Branch of the NAACP; the Collaborative for a Safe, Fair, and Just Cleveland; and the Ohio Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild moved to file amicus briefs in this action. The parties opposed the motions, indicating that there was no need for amicus assistance at this time, and that the focus should be directed at implementation of the consent decree. In addition, the DOJ noted that community groups were accorded a substantial opportunity to be heard on issues governed by the consent decree. On October 6, U.S. District Court Judge Solomon Oliver, Jr. denied the motion, reiterating that the consent decree was sufficient and noting that these groups had other, more appropriate methods to communicate their views regarding implementation of the consent decree.

On October 1, 2015, the parties jointly moved to appoint the Police Assessment Resource Center (PARC) as the independent monitor for the implementation of the consent decree. Judge Oliver granted the order.

On December 1, 2015, the parties jointly moved to modify the consent decree to adjust the deadline for the Community Police Commission's recommendations and to fix a typographical error. Judge Oliver granted this motion on December 8. On December 9, 2015, the defendants filed their first status report, which discussed the steps taken in response to the consent decree. In addition to appointing a monitor, the defendants had appointed a community police commission and created district policing committees, and an office of professional standards and police review board. The defendants had also implemented crisis intervention training, and made changes to recruitment and hiring of police officers.

The status report stated that the CDP would continue to work toward adopting all of the reforms addressed in the consent decree and correct any problems though the City was presently addressing the temporary restraining order entered by the Court of Common Please that delayed the start of training the new recruit class.

On February 1, 2016, the monitor filed its proposed first-year monitoring plan with the court. Judge Oliver approved the plan on February 4.

On February 16, 2016, the parties again jointly moved to modify certain deadlines in the consent decree. Judge Oliver granted this motion on February 22.

In June 2016, the defendants filed their second status report. This report discussed the CDP's move to community and problem- oriented policing, which was codified in a new mission statement. It also mentioned the implementation of new polices and training in areas such as use of force and crisis intervention, as well as new equipment and resources to assist the CDP to fulfill its mission and satisfy the requirements of the consent decree.

This status report also addressed issued raised by the monitor in a semiannual report about the Office of Professional Standards ("OPS"). The monitor was concerned about the efficiency of the office, especially pertaining to the small number of cases that were investigated. The defendants explained in their status report that they would continue to work closely with the monitor and the DOJ to address and resolve these concerns.

As of August 16, 2018, the parties have worked to implement the terms of the consent decree. Upon the monitor's recommendations, there have been revisions of CDP's use of force policies, including revised use of the canine unit. Implementation of wearable camera systems is underway, and the parties have worked to develop new crisis intervention polices and trainings. CDP is developing revised search and seizure policies and implementing a community engagement framework for community and problem-oriented policing and bias-free policing.

On January 1, 2018, the court approved minor modifications to the settlement agreement, removing the prohibition on current or retired law enforcement officers serving as the Superintendent of the CDP's Internal Affairs Unit (“IAU”). The City had identified a candidate who has prior experience as a prosecutor, and the parties agreed that the agreement's language should be change to permit the CDP to hire the individual so that implementation of the reforms to the IAU required by the consent decree could begin.

On August 13, 2018, the parties jointly requested that Matthew Barge be appointed independent monitor in place of PARC. Matthew Barge had been the lead monitor for the PARC team, but upon his resignation from PARC in 2018, he wished to continue as independent monitor.

On August 15, 2018, the monitoring team submitted its Fifth Semiannual Report and Comprehensive Reassessment, a more wide-ranging look at progress made and work yet to be done than the previous regular semiannual reports submitted to date. The report found that overall the CDP had made significant progress in a number of critical areas, particularly use of force, which had decreased under the new use of force policies. The report also noted the progress the CDP had made in partnering with the community, as well as its approach to interacting with individuals experiencing behavioral health crises. The report also found areas requiring substantial progress. It noted that the CDP's focus until 2018 had largely been on designing new policies, procedures, systems, and structures for compliance with the consent decree, and with substantial progress--most of the relevant policies or plans contemplated by the consent decree were "well on their way to being completed." However, the report noted that "paper is only relevant when it is put into practice." It identified the areas that will require the most work as being those related to how the CDP functions, manages its personnel, implements its strategic initiatives, and tracks its performance. Areas where work remains included the CDP's disciplinary process and accountability measures, including the investigation of civilian complaints.

As of the August 2018 report, the monitoring team found that the defendants had some distance to go before all areas of the consent decree reached substantial and effective compliance, but highlighted the progress the CDP had made in its initial years under the consent decree.

John He - 03/03/2016
Saeeda Joseph-Charles - 10/30/2016
Sarah McDonald - 08/16/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Unreasonable search and seizure
Content of Injunction
Auditing
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Follow recruitment, hiring, or promotion protocols
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitor/Master
Monitoring
Provide antidiscrimination training
Reporting
Retaliation Prohibition
Training
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Excessive force
Failure to discipline
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Improper treatment of mentally ill suspects
Improper use of canines
Inadequate citizen complaint investigations and procedures
Incident/accident reporting & investigations
Pattern or Practice
Restraints : chemical
Restraints : physical
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 14141
Defendant(s) City of Cleveland
Plaintiff Description Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted Moot
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2015 - n/a
Filing Year 2015
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing PN-OH-0003 : 2002 DOJ Investigation of Cleveland Division of Police (No Court)
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
  Data examining the Department of Justice's civil rights investigations of local and state police departments
Marshall Project
Date: Jan. 17, 2017
By: Tom Meagher (Marshall Project)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  The Civil Rights Division’s Pattern and Practice Police Reform Work: 1994-Present
https://www.justice.gov/
Date: Jan. 4, 2017
By: U.S. Department of Justice
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  An Interactive Guide to the Civil Rights Division’s Police Reforms
https://www.justice.gov/
Date: Jan. 4, 2017
By: U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division (U.S. Department of Justice)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  What Happens When Police Are Forced to Reform?
Date: Nov. 13, 2015
By: Kimbriell Kelly, Sarah Childress and Steven Rich (Frontline/Post)
Citation: Washington Post (Nov. 13, 2015)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Federal Enforcement of Police Reform
Date: 2014
By: Stephen Rushin (University of Illinois College of Law, University of California, Berkeley - Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program Faculty)
Citation: 82 Fordham Law Review 3189 (2014)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:15-cv-1046 (N.D. Ohio)
PN-OH-0008-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/21/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Re: Investigation of the Cleveland Division of Police
PN-OH-0008-0018.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 07/23/2002
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Re: Investigation of Cleveland Division of Police Central Prison Unit and Holding Cell Facilities
PN-OH-0008-0019.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/04/2003
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Joint Statement of Principles by the United State Department of Justice and the City of Cleveland regarding the Cleveland Division of Police
PN-OH-0008-0004.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 12/02/2014
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Investigation of the Cleveland Division of Police [Executive Summary]
PN-OH-0008-0001.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 12/04/2014
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Investigación de la División De Policía De Cleveland [Executive Summary in Spanish]
PN-OH-0008-0002.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 12/04/2014
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Investigation of the Cleveland Division of Police
PN-OH-0008-0003.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 12/04/2014
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Justice Department and City of Cleveland Agree to Reform Division of Police After Finding a Pattern or Practice of Excessive Force
PN-OH-0008-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/04/2014
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Request for Information [Seeking an Independent Monitor Negotiated Court Enforceable Settlement Agreement regarding the Cleveland Division of Police]
PN-OH-0008-0006.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 03/26/2015
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PN-OH-0008-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/26/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement [ECF# 3-1]
PN-OH-0008-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/26/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Motion and Memorandum for Entry of Consent Decree [ECF# 3]
PN-OH-0008-0020.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/26/2015
Order [ECF# 9] (N.D. Ohio)
PN-OH-0008-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/12/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Appointing Monitor [ECF# 25] (N.D. Ohio)
PN-OH-0008-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/01/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 26] (N.D. Ohio)
PN-OH-0008-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/06/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
City of Cleveland's Initial Status Report [ECF# 34]
PN-OH-0008-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/09/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Submitting First-Year Monitoring Plan [ECF# 43]
PN-OH-0008-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/01/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Submitting First Semiannual Report [ECF# 65]
PN-OH-0008-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/02/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
City of Cleveland's Second Status Report [ECF# 69]
PN-OH-0008-0015.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/13/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Cleveland Ohio Community Survey: Public Perceptions of Safety and Policing [ECF# 71-1]
PN-OH-0008-0016.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/23/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Providing Baseline Assessment Report [ECF# 73]
PN-OH-0008-0017.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/24/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Notice Submitting Monitoring Team's Second Semiannual Report [ECF# 97]
PN-OH-0008-0021.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/10/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
City of Cleveland's Third Status Report [ECF# 104]
PN-OH-0008-0022.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/24/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Notice Submitting Monitoring Team's Third Annual Semiannual Report [ECF# 135]
PN-OH-0008-0023.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/13/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
City of Cleveland's Fourth Status Report [ECF# 144]
PN-OH-0008-0024.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/19/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Notice Submitting Monitoring Team's Fourth Semiannual Report [ECF# 179]
PN-OH-0008-0025.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/24/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
City of Cleveland's Fifth Status Report [ECF# 190]
PN-OH-0008-0026.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/09/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Notice Submitting Monitoring Team's Fifth Semiannual Report & Comprehensive Re-assessment [ECF# 214]
PN-OH-0008-0027.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/15/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Oliver, Solomon Jr. (N.D. Ohio)
PN-OH-0008-0009 | PN-OH-0008-0010 | PN-OH-0008-0011 | PN-OH-0008-9000
Monitors/Masters Barge, Matthew (California)
PN-OH-0008-0012 | PN-OH-0008-0014 | PN-OH-0008-0017 | PN-OH-0008-0021 | PN-OH-0008-0023 | PN-OH-0008-0025 | PN-OH-0008-0027 | PN-OH-0008-9000
Cafarchia, Francine (Ohio)
PN-OH-0008-0016
Diaz, Diana O. (Ohio)
PN-OH-0008-0016
Gomez, Sophia T. (Ohio)
PN-OH-0008-0016
Plaintiff's Lawyers Brett, Sharon (District of Columbia)
PN-OH-0008-9000
Brown Cutlar, Shanetta Y. (District of Columbia)
PN-OH-0008-0019
Dettelbach, Steven M (District of Columbia)
PN-OH-0008-0003 | PN-OH-0008-0004 | PN-OH-0008-0007 | PN-OH-0008-0008 | PN-OH-0008-0020 | PN-OH-0008-9000
Gunston, Emily A. (District of Columbia)
PN-OH-0008-0007 | PN-OH-0008-0008 | PN-OH-0008-0020 | PN-OH-0008-9000
Gupta, Vanita (District of Columbia)
PN-OH-0008-0003 | PN-OH-0008-0004 | PN-OH-0008-0007 | PN-OH-0008-0008 | PN-OH-0008-0020
Herdman, Justin E. (Ohio)
PN-OH-0008-9000
Heyer, Michelle L (Ohio)
PN-OH-0008-0007 | PN-OH-0008-0008 | PN-OH-0008-0020 | PN-OH-0008-9000
Kappelhoff, Mark (District of Columbia)
PN-OH-0008-0008
Morse, Thomas Jackson (District of Columbia)
PN-OH-0008-0007 | PN-OH-0008-0008 | PN-OH-0008-0020 | PN-OH-0008-9000
Ogletree, Rashida J (District of Columbia)
PN-OH-0008-0006 | PN-OH-0008-0007 | PN-OH-0008-0008 | PN-OH-0008-0020 | PN-OH-0008-9000
Porter, Nicole (District of Columbia)
PN-OH-0008-9000
Preston, Judith C. (District of Columbia)
PN-OH-0008-0007 | PN-OH-0008-0008 | PN-OH-0008-0020
Rendon, Carole S. (Ohio)
PN-OH-0008-0006 | PN-OH-0008-0007 | PN-OH-0008-0008 | PN-OH-0008-0020 | PN-OH-0008-9000
Rosenbaum, Steven H. (District of Columbia)
PN-OH-0008-0018
Senier, Amy (District of Columbia)
PN-OH-0008-9000
Volosin, Heather Tonsing (Ohio)
PN-OH-0008-0007 | PN-OH-0008-0008 | PN-OH-0008-0020 | PN-OH-0008-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Langhenry, Barabara A. (Ohio)
PN-OH-0008-0006 | PN-OH-0008-0008 | PN-OH-0008-0013 | PN-OH-0008-0015 | PN-OH-0008-0022 | PN-OH-0008-0024 | PN-OH-0008-0026 | PN-OH-0008-9000
Scott, Joseph F. (Ohio)
PN-OH-0008-0008 | PN-OH-0008-9000
Singletary, Gary S. (Ohio)
PN-OH-0008-0008 | PN-OH-0008-0013 | PN-OH-0008-0015 | PN-OH-0008-0022 | PN-OH-0008-0024 | PN-OH-0008-0026 | PN-OH-0008-9000
Other Lawyers Chandra, Subodh (Ohio)
PN-OH-0008-9000
Friedman, Gordon S. (Ohio)
PN-OH-0008-9000
Gilbert, Terry H. (Ohio)
PN-OH-0008-9000
Greene, Jacqueline C. (Ohio)
PN-OH-0008-9000
Hardiman, James L. (Ohio)
PN-OH-0008-9000
Knoth, Richard M. (Ohio)
PN-OH-0008-9000
Levenson, Freda J. (Ohio)
PN-OH-0008-9000
Nelson, Michael L. Sr. (Ohio)
PN-OH-0008-9000

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