What would this ballot measure do?
This amendment is a common-sense approach that ensures independent oversight of investigations into police misconduct, and gives final authority on discipline decisions to a board of community leaders. This means that community members, from every part of our city, will have a hand in improving accountability within our police department to ultimately build a safer Cleveland.
This ballot measure specifically expands the investigative and disciplinary powers of the Civilian Police Review Board, an independent body appointed by the Mayor that investigates alleged misconduct by police employees. It also establishes a permanent Community Police Commission to serve as the final city authority regarding the discipline of police officers, and it provides the community with an ongoing voice on policing and community safety policies.
How will this impact our city’s budget?
It won’t — it will actually save taxpayers money. This campaign is about delivering real accountability for our communities by ensuring fair and independent investigations into police misconduct. Since 2014, the City of Cleveland has paid out $24 million in settlements arising from police misconduct — far more than the city paid in the years before. Independent community oversight is a tried and tested way to move policing in our city in the right direction and stop wasting taxpayer dollars on settlements for police wrongdoing.
what’s needed to qualify this for the ballot, and when would people get to vote on this?
Our campaign needs to collect more than 6,000 signatures to put this issue on the ballot. Click here to learn where and how you can get involved as we collect signatures across Cleveland.
We expect that Cleveland residents will get the chance to vote on this measure for common-sense police accountability in the fall of 2021.
Frequently asked questions
What is Citizens for a Safer Cleveland?
It’s a common-sense ballot initiative that ensures independent civilian oversight of investigations into police misconduct, gives final authority on discipline decisions to a civilian board of community representatives, and provides the Cleveland community with powerful civilian oversight of policing and community safety policies.
What does police oversight currently look like in Cleveland?
Citizens for a Safer Cleveland will strengthen our existing police-oversight systems in Cleveland. Here are the existing bodies within Cleveland’s oversight infrastructure* that will be improved by our ballot measure:
1: Office of Professional Standards (Office)
- Investigates public complaints against Cleveland Division of Police officers
- Recommends action to the Civilian Police Review Board
2: Civilian Police Review Board (Board)
- Reviews complaints of police misconduct from OPS
- Recommends disciplinary action to the Cleveland Chief of Police (who is not required to enforce recommendations) and the Community Police Commission
3: Community Police Commission (Commission)
- Reviews police policies, including policies related to accountability, transparency, use of force, and more
- Solicits community input around policing and police reform
- Makes policy recommendations to the Mayor, Safety Director, and Chief of Police
- Serves as a temporary stopgap for police accountability in Cleveland and will soon expire in 2022 along with the Consent Decree
*For the full list, please refer to this website.
Why does it need to change?
Our ballot measure would protect our loved ones, strengthen relationships between police and the community, and save taxpayer dollars by improving accountability within the Cleveland Division of Police. This initiative is democracy at work—allowing civilians to help improve police accountability, so we can create a safer Cleveland for all families. We can no longer let the police continue to police themselves. When police departments aren’t accountable to anyone but themselves, it leads to even more dangerous decisions, hurts our families, and deepens mistrust within our communities.
Not only will this ballot measure make Cleveland safer, it will also save our hard-earned taxpayer dollars. Since 2010, the City of Cleveland has paid out nearly $47 million in settlements arising from police misconduct. By increasing 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, with no exceptions.
How does it need to change?
We need a truly powerful and permanent oversight system in Cleveland. Under the current system, the Commission bears no real authority to hold police officers accountable for misconduct.
Citizens for a Safer Cleveland is planning to make the role of the Community Police Commission permanent. The Commission would serve as the final city authority* regarding officer discipline for misconduct against civilians, and provide the community with an ongoing voice on policing and community-safety policies and priorities. Importantly, the Commission would also gain the power to implement its policy recommendations. Our ballot initiative will also expand the investigative and disciplinary authority of the Civilian Police Review Board to ensure that community values prevail. The measure will make it clear that the Office of Professional Standards reports to the Civilian Police Review Board—not to the police chief—to ensure that investigations are truly independent.
*Note: Commission members will continue to be appointed by the Mayor, with three members being nominated by City Council. The Mayor will also be able to remove Commission members for any malfeasance or gross neglect of duty, and other serious misconduct.
How can I get involved?
There are several ways to help our team, and everyone is welcome to join. Sign up here to be the first to hear about updates from the campaign trail, volunteer opportunities, and more. Contribute what you can here to help power our campaign for real police accountability in Cleveland.