The NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (“LDF”) is encouraged by the agreement announced today by the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the City of Cleveland on plans to reform the Cleveland Division of Police following the DOJ’s finding of a pattern or practice of excessive force. The court-enforceable agreement requires the Division of Police to adopt a number of reforms including de-escalation techniques; bias-free principles for policing; and improved officer training. This agreement comes at a pivotal moment in Cleveland where just this past weekend, police officer Michael Brelo was found not guilty of manslaughter charges in the shooting deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams who were unarmed when killed. More importantly, Cleveland Division of Police is still conducting an investigation of the police officer who shot and killed 12 year-old Tamir Rice last November in Cleveland as he held a toy gun in a playground.
LDF believes that the agreement reflects a promising first step in a commitment made by the City and the Division of Police to work with the DOJ and the Cleveland community to transform the police agency into a model of community-oriented policing. The agreement contains many reforms that every law enforcement agency should adopt going forward, including robust community input.
Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF’s President and Director-Counsel, says: “It’s important to emphasize that there is still a process going forward that requires significant judicial oversight, but, most importantly community vigilance to ensure compliance. While we are encouraged by the agreement, an important issue remains unaddressed — the accountability of police officers who unjustifiably kill unarmed civilians.”
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is not a part of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), although LDF was founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. Since 1957, LDF has been a completely separate organization. Please refer to us in all media attributions as the “NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund” or “LDF”.