Cleveland works to fix issues in probing misconduct claims


CLEVELAND (AP) — The city is working to fix a branch of the Cleveland Police Department that investigates complaints of officer misconduct lodged by citizens, officials said.

The announcement in the form of a court filing came after Matthew Barge, the federal monitor responsible for overseeing the department’s reform efforts, issued a report critical of the department’s internal investigation processes. Barge’s report questioned how the department had hundreds of outstanding cases and how investigators were able to recently clear so much of their backlog in a short period of time.

The report earlier this month was the first since a judge approved a monitoring plan for the department spelled out in a consent decree, which was signed last year after a Justice Department investigation found officers had shown a pattern of excessive force.

The city said the Office of Professional Standards is hiring two new full-time investigators and a new administrator. As of Friday, 200 of 294 complaints filed in 2015 are still pending, along with 65 from 2014 and 85 from this year, according to the report.

“The city is committed to significantly reducing the number of pending complaints by the end of 2016,” according to the report.

Investigators will soon be using an electronic case-tracking system, which was installed last year, according to city officials.

The city’s response included a recognition that timely, full and fair investigations of citizen complaints are a critical part of reforms agreed to in the consent decree, Cleveland.com reported (http://bit.ly/1WMEPRk ).

The city also said that progress has been made in crafting new policies on use-of-force and response to mental health crises, along with training that officers will undergo before the end of the year.

City and Justice Department officials, along with Barge, were scheduled to discuss the city’s progress during a status conference Tuesday.

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Information from: cleveland.com, http://www.cleveland.com