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The city of Cleveland on Tuesday agreed to a broad set of police reforms, including an overhaul of its rules on the use of force, new oversight provisions and training to minimize racial bias.
The reforms were announced as part of a settlement with the Justice Department, which concluded in December that Cleveland police had engaged in a pattern of excessive force and civil rights violations.
Mayor Frank Jackson said the reforms were the beginning of “a new way of policing in the city of Cleveland, one built on the strong foundation of progressive change, sustained trust and accountability.”
“This is really a defining moment for the city of Cleveland,” he said.
The announcement came three days after a white police officer, Michael Brelo, was acquitted of manslaughter in the 2012 shooting deaths of two black motorists. They were killed in a 137-shot police fusillade.
Under the settlement, the city will direct police to “use de-escalation techniques rather than force” whenever possible, said Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
The city also agreed to train its officers on minimizing racial bias, and to analyze data on stops, searches and seizures to guard against unconstitutional policing.
The city will reform oversight agencies and establish additional ones to investigate allegations of officer misconduct. A newly appointed police inspector general will report to the mayor.
An independent monitor will oversee the reforms and report to a federal judge.
In its investigation, the Justice Department found a pattern of improper police tactics that included shootings, blows to the head and excessive force against the mentally ill. Investigators concluded that Cleveland officers were not given adequate training and supervision.
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