Cleveland Promises Police Reform After Justice Dept. ReportMay 26, 2015 | Written by Dan Margolis
Our criminal justice system is based on a set a rules and procedures meant to limit police power and protect individual rights while officers enforce the law. Unfortunately, police departments do not always follow the rules. Sometimes, they violate suspects’ Constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment, right to due process, right to an attorney, and so on.
This problem has received special attention nationwide recently as a spate of cases has arisen of suspects being killed by police officers. One such case occurred in Cleveland, where police officers fired 137 shots at an unarmed man and woman in November 2012, killing them both. The suspects were African American; many see race as a frequent factor in cases of citizens dying at the hands of the police.
That case recently ended in a not guilty verdict for the sole officer charged. However, that shooting led to an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department, which released a report in December accusing the Cleveland Police Department of a pattern of civil rights violations and use of excessive force.
The report cited shootings and blows to the head among the evidence of improper procedure. The agency concluded that police officers in Cleveland were inadequately trained and supervised.
In reaction, the City of Cleveland announced that it and the Justice Department had agreed to a series of reforms. Included, according to NBC News, are new rules governing the use of force and training intended to reduce racial bias among officers.
Though citizens may have little ability to prevent violations of their rights on the street, a knowledgeable defense attorney can help them assert those rights in court.