By Kim Palmer
CLEVELAND (Reuters) - A federal judge on Friday signed off on an agreement between the U.S. Justice Department and Cleveland to address complaints of widespread racial bias and use of excessive force in the city's police department.
The agreement released in May was detailed in a 105-page plan for changes to use-of-force policies, training and standards of accountability within the Cleveland Police and calls for an outside monitor to report directly to the court.
The plan is "fair, reasonable and adequate" to address the issues of excessive use of force in the Cleveland department and could be a model for the rest of the nation, U.S. District Court Judge Solomon Oliver said in a court hearing on Friday.
The plan comes on the heels of several cases that have raised questions about police use of force in the United States, particularly against minorities, including the fatal police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland last November, outside a recreation center.
A Cleveland judge on Thursday recommended that the two officers involved in Rice's shooting face charges, in an advisory opinion reached under a rarely used Ohio law that allows citizens to seek charges.
The Justice Department in December released a report that found excessive use of force by Cleveland Police against civilians and that supervisors tolerated and, in some cases, endorsed use of unnecessary or unreasonable force.
James Hardiman, chairman of the criminal justice committee at the NAACP's Cleveland chapter, said community leaders would have liked to have had more participation in the process and he had concerns about the role the public will play in police reforms.
"Being consulted and being part of the process are two different things," Hardiman told reporters after the hearing.
Under the plan, civilian will oversee internal affairs, a community policing commission will be added and Mayor Frank Jackson will hire a police inspector general.
(Reporting By Kim Palmer in Cleveland and Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Lisa Lambert)