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Nearly 200 people apply for Cleveland community police panel

Commission is responsible for recommending policies to improve how Cleveland police officers interact with the public

Associated Press

CLEVELAND — Two former Cleveland police chiefs, a former Ohio lieutenant governor, a prominent civil rights attorney and a number of activists are among the nearly 200 people who’ve applied to become members of a commission that will recommend how to improve Cleveland police officers’ interactions with the public.

The Community Police Commission is viewed as a key provision in a reform-minded consent decree between Cleveland and the U.S. Department of Justice. The agreement was finalized in May after the DOJ issued a blistering investigative report late last year that said Cleveland police too often use excessive force and violate people’s civil rights.

The DOJ report was especially critical of how Cleveland police officers relate to black residents, who comprise more than half the city’s population.

The 105-page agreement is supposed to govern how officers use force, both deadly and nonlethal, and increase accountability for officer conduct and discipline. The agreement mandates that the commission make recommendations to the police chief, mayor and city council on “policies and practices related to community and problem-oriented policing, bias-free policing and police transparency.” An independent monitoring team will be hired to oversee how the consent decree is implemented.

Ten of the commission’s 13 members are required to live or work in Cleveland and must come from minority communities and advocacy groups. The other three members will belong to Cleveland’s police unions. Terms on the commission are four years.

Among those who have applied are former police chiefs Mary Bounds and William Denihan, who is now head of Cuyahoga County’s board for mental health and drug addiction services. Former Ohio lieutenant governor and attorney general Lee Fisher also has applied along with several members of a group that formed to protest how Cleveland and Cuyahoga County has handled the investigation into the fatal police shooting of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy holding a pellet gun.

A selection panel will make its recommendations to the city about who should serve on the commission early next month.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press