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The Blog CCC

The Prevailing Police Culture in Cleveland, Ohio

Martha L. Thornton
September 12, 2013
08:57 AM EDT

Cleveland Police apprehend a suspect.

We must, as a community support impartial and effective leadership in our elected officials. There is no doubt that the U.S. economic recovery has been slow, and the working class and poor have suffered the most due to limited employment opportunity. Now is the time for us to stand together and take ownership of our destiny. It is not up to the elected officials to improve our situation. It is up to us to take control.

Earlier this year, Cleveland police fired one hundred and thirty-seven rounds of bullets into the car of two unarmed, people. Directly following the aftermath, Mayor Frank Jackson exhibited a great deal of courage when he insisted that an impartial and comprehensive investigation be conducted of the police department. The news media down-played the fact that there was no bullet residue found on the hands of the suspects who were shot, which would have been present if they had fired a gun at the officers as the police claimed. Furthermore, there was no gun found in their vehicle. These citizens were murdered , and the individuals responsible should be prosecuted for their murder. The long-standing culture within the department that brands all black suspects as dangerous is the root cause behind this terrible tragedy, and there is plenty of support for it to continue. Consequently, it comes as no surprise that the police union ruled the incident justified. This is why Black Cleveland Police officers need to rise-up and rebuff the police union immediately.

I am tired of Black people believing that the solution to a problem such as this is to have a group demonstration; that worked in 1963, but today is a new day, and we must address reality! The problem is not with Mayor Jackson or Police Chief McGrath. It is the culture. How long will people of goodwill in Cleveland put up with perpetual police persecution and harassment? This insidious culture inside the Cleveland Police Department must be addressed and soon. Think about it, if a police officer is shot, the perpetrator is hunted with every resource possible. In contrast, if a crime is committed against an average citizen, the police investigation is often sloppy. Take for instance the case on infamous Anthony Sowell case. Three times the police visited his home. 11 dead bodies were in the house decomposing, and yet the police did nothing. Three women had complained to the police that they were victims of attempted rape, but no police action was taken! Why? Consider the case of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Wright. Despite the kidnapper living a block from where these young girls disappeared the women went missing for over ten years! The police were called to the home of the kidnapper twice. However, it took the courage of the victims, and a private citizen to rescue them from their kidnapper. We see time and time again that if the crime is not committed against a police, officers do not feel inclined to pull out all the stops during the investigation. We pay their salary, and we need protection from criminals, too! Unfortunately for us, if we complain to the police about their poor job performance we are harassed and persecuted.

We need to make sure there is a change in the way the city hires officers. We should require that psychological tests and evaluations include methods to filter out and dismiss racist and sadistic candidates. We need to revamp our procedures for promotions, as well as redefine job descriptions. We must insist upon a community citizen review board. We as citizens of Cleveland, Ohio must write to every politician in power including the president, the governor, our elected federal and state elected officials, on down to the mayor, and city council. This is how we can get a change in the oppressive culture that has taken hold of the Cleveland Police Department!