The Justice Department announced today that it has opened a pattern or practice investigation into use of force by the Cleveland Division of Police (CPD). The investigation will focus on allegations that CPD officers use excessive force, including unreasonable deadly force, and on the adequacy of CPD’s training, supervision, and accountability mechanisms that are essential to effective, constitutional policing.
The Justice Department’s investigation will determine whether CPD officers engage in a pattern or practice of using excessive force in violation of the Constitution and federal law. This investigation will include a comprehensive review of CPD’s policies, procedures, training, accountability systems, and community engagement. As part of this investigation, the Justice Department will reach out to community members and groups for help in identifying potential problems within the police department.
Department officials have met with Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, CPD Chief Michael McGrath, and Director of Public Safety Martin Flask and will continue to work closely with both the city and CPD as the investigation progresses.
“Police officers across the country are called upon to protect and safeguard members of their communities and are afforded the authority they need to do so, including the authority to use deadly force,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “It is absolutely imperative that officers use that authority responsibly and within the boundaries of the law. We are eager to work together with the city of Cleveland and its police department to help ensure that its officers are best serving the individuals they are sworn to protect.”