Police consultant to monitor changes to Cleveland department

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 01, 2015 12:52 PM

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - Cleveland has selected a Los Angeles-based police consulting firm to monitor efforts to reform its police department after a U.S. Justice Department report that found widespread excessive use-of-force, city officials said on Thursday.

Matthew Barge, a vice president and deputy director for Police Assessment Resource Center and a use-of-force expert, and firm members will monitor Cleveland's police for at least five years, officials said.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson asked for a federal investigation after a series of incidents including the fatal shooting of a 12-year-old black child by a white police officer last November outside a recreation center.

Tamir Rice was holding a replica handgun when an officer shot him within seconds of police arriving at the park in response to a report of a suspect brandishing a handgun.

Barge, who is white, said one of the biggest challenges will be working with the community and police to bring about change.

"This will take some time to do right," Barge said at a news conference. "Nobody likes to have someone standing over their shoulder looking over them."

The group that will oversee the monitoring include a former and current police chiefs, a police union representative, legal experts and local civilian leaders.

The consulting firm also monitors police in Seattle and has been involved with police reforms in Portland, Cincinnati and Memphis.

Barge said the firm's costs are capped at $4.95 million over four years. The city's agreement with the Justice Department requires a monitor to be in place for at least five years.

Jackson said it will cost the city about $13 million to implement the reforms outlined in the consent decree. He did not say how Cleveland would cover those costs.

(Reporting by Kim Palmer in Cleveland; Editing by Doina Chiacu)