Frequently asked questions
What is Issue 24 all about?
- A common-sense ballot initiative that ensures real accountability by holding independent investigations into police misconduct, giving final authority on discipline to a civilian board of community representatives, and providing Clevelanders with permanent and powerful civilian oversight over policing and community-safety policies.
What will Issue 24 do for Clevelanders?
- Our ballot measure would protect our loved ones, strengthen relationships between police and the community, and save precious taxpayer dollars by ensuring real accountability within the Cleveland Division of Police.
- This initiative is democracy at work—by allowing civilians to help improve police accountability, we can create a safer Cleveland for all families.
- Not only would this ballot measure make Cleveland safer, it would also save our hard-earned taxpayer dollars. Since 2010, the City of Cleveland has paid out nearly $47 million in settlements arising from police misconduct1. That means an average of $381,000 per settlement2. Implementing the Consent Decree also costs taxpayers between $6 million and $11 million annually, according to the Community Police Commission3. (By contrast, the cost of Issue 24 would only be equivalent to less than 2% of the annual police budget.)
- By ensuring real police accountability, we can stop wasting taxpayer dollars on settlements for police wrongdoing and put back the resources we need into our communities so all of us can thrive.
How will Issue 24 ensure real police accountability?
- Issue 24 will make the role of the Community Police Commission permanent. The Commission would serve as the final city authority regarding officer discipline for misconduct, and provide the community with an ongoing voice on policing and community-safety policies and priorities.
- Issue 24 will also strengthen the role of the Civilian Police Review Board. From a policy standpoint, this means that the Office of Professional Standards will report to the Civilian Police Review Board (not to the police chief) to ensure that investigations are truly independent.
Why does Cleveland need more police oversight?
- Six years after the Justice Department implemented the current Consent Decree, the Cleveland Division of Police is still out of compliance with much of what the decree stipulates.
- The Consent Decree serves as a basis for police accountability in Cleveland, but it does not go nearly far enough. Issue 24 will ensure powerful and permanent civilian oversight to make sure that our police are held accountable when they fail to comply with department rules and regulations, no exceptions.
Who will pick the new Civilian Police Review Board members? What are their qualifications?
- The CPRB will consist of nine members representing Cleveland’s diverse communities. The Mayor will appoint five members, and Council will appoint four members to four-year terms. The Mayor will also be able to remove members for any malfeasance or gross neglect of duty, and other serious misconduct.
- Under Issue 24, all CPRB members must participate in initial and annual training on topics that are relevant to their duties. The membership of the CPRB must reflect the following:
- No more than one member may be a resident of the same police district;
- At least two members should be attorneys with experience representing victims of police misconduct; and
- At least one member should, when feasible, be between the ages of 18 and 30 at the time of appointment.
How will police discipline work under Issue 24?
- The Civilian Police Review Board will be responsible for overseeing full and complete investigations of misconduct (including the use of excessive force or deadly force) that come to its attention through complaints filed with it or through other means. Investigations will be conducted by the Office of Professional Standards, whose investigators will be appointed by the CPRB.
- Termination will be presumed for conduct (including slurs or other language) that is racist, sexist, anti-LGBTQ+, anti-immigrant, national-origin-based, or that is otherwise bigoted and used in the course and scope of employment, and/or is considered a matter of public concern.
- The Community Police Commission may, at its discretion, hold hearings to review the CPRB, Chief of Police, or executive head of the police force’s discipline decisions involving Cleveland police officers. In reviewing and holding hearings on those decisions, the Commission may impose discipline where none was imposed, or increase discipline. The Commission may also order the decrease of discipline only in circumstances where there is a determination that an officer is facing retaliation for protected activity or for whistleblowing about misconduct within the police department.
How will the Civilian Police Review Board and Community Police Commission function under their bylaws?
- Our charter amendment serves as a framework that will inform the organization of both the Civilian Police Review Board and Community Police Commission through self-determined bylaws. Though the charter amendment lays out the size and general composition of each body (including the naming of a chair, the setting of terms, etc.), in addition to establishing the nature of appointment and removal, it is not intended to dictate the specifics of how each body will regulate itself.
How would Issue 24 affect collective bargaining?
- Issue 24 does NOT affect collective bargaining, and was intentionally crafted to avoid interference in collective bargaining.
- Issue 24 is strictly limited to the procedures that the City of Cleveland will undertake in response to misconduct by the Cleveland Division of Police.
- While the Commission serves as the final authority on discipline matters within the City of Cleveland as an institution, the policy does not alter or interfere with grievance procedures for officers or officers’ ability to rely on arbitration as a recourse for resolving disputes.
- It does not negate the authority of an arbitrator to make the final decision with respect to a disciplinary outcome by the City. In fact, nothing in the policy establishes a role for the CPRB or the Commission to be involved in labor negotiations in any capacity.
- To these points, there is no reason to believe Issue 24 would set a precedent for other public sector unions.
1 What’s in the Cleveland Police Budget? (Policy Matters Ohio; July 22, 2021)
2 What’s in the Cleveland Police Budget? (Policy Matters Ohio; July 22, 2021)
3 POLICE OVERSIGHT IN CLEVELAND: Best Practices for Civilian Oversight & Initial Review of Cleveland’s Oversight Structure (Cleveland Community Police Commission; September 2019)