On May 26, 2015, the Cleveland Police Department and the U.S. Department of Justice reached a settlement agreement (also known as a consent decree because it will be supervised by the federal courts). The agreement is the end product of the DOJ’s investigation, which found the police department routinely violates citizens’ constitutional right to be free from unreasonable seizures. The violations are not isolated incidents, nor are they the product of officers going rogue; indeed “systemic deficiencies contribute to the pattern or practice of excessive force.”
The agreement is 105 pages long, and although the police department does not admit fault, it has agreed to comprehensive reforms aimed at improving training, increasing oversight, and restoring trust in the community. The broken relationship between the community and the police did not happen overnight. Success won’t happen in an instant. It will take years to rebuild trust. But this consent decree moves us in the right direction.