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Citizens For A Safer Cleveland submits additional signatures to place police-related initiative on November ballot

On July 7, Citizens for a Safer Cleveland submitted an additional 3,208 signatures to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections for verification after the committee was short 384 of the 6,270 valid signatures needed to qualify for the Cleveland ballot in November. 

On June 16, the committee announced that they had submitted about 13,000 signatures to the county board of elections. On June 25, the county board of elections announced that 5,886 of the submitted signatures were valid. The group had 15 additional days to collect enough valid signatures to make up the difference and qualify for the ballot.

The initiative would repeal and replace sections of the Cleveland City Charter concerning the organization and oversight of the Cleveland Police Department. It would grant the chief of police the authority to discipline police officers in any reasonably justifiable way, subject to subject to review by the Civilian Police Review Board and the Community Police Commission. The initiative would restructure the Office of Professional Standards to report to the Civilian Police Review Board rather than the executive head of the police department. The initiative would bar current or former police officers from serving as the administrator of the office and would require that the police chief (and the force at large) comply with any requests for information that the office makes within 30 days.

The initiative would also enact the following changes to the nine-member Civilian Police Review Board:

  • Require that two members of the board should be attorneys with experience defending victims of police brutality;
  • Transfer the power to remove board members from the executive head of the police department to the mayor;
  • Require that the board’s budget be equal to or greater than 1% of the budget allocated to the police department;
  • Grant the board the ability to initiate its own complaints against the police department;
  • Add a new requirement that the chief of police present “clear-and-convicting” evidence that the board’s disciplinary recommendations are erroneous if the chief does not want to comply with them; and
  • Add termination as the default disciplinary action for “bigoted content, slurs, or language.”

Lastly, the initiative would create the 13-member Community Police Commission. The duties of the Commission would include serving as the final authority over disciplinary actions of officers; interviewing and recommending candidates for police commander and inspector general; establishing and auditing police recruitment and training practices; and directing the investigations of the Civilian Police Review Board.

Ballotpedia is covering a selection of notable police-related ballot measures in 2021. In April, voters in Oak Park, Illinois, defeated a non-binding advisory question that advised the city to defund the police department. In May, voters in Austin, Texas approved a measure to establish the position of the Director of Police Oversight in the city charter. Voters in San Antonio, Texas, defeated a measure that would have repealed collective bargaining for police officers. Voters in Pittsburgh approved a measure to require police to knock on a door, announce their presence, and wait at least 15 seconds before entering a residence to execute a warrant. Allegheny County voters approved a measure to prohibit the solitary confinement of persons held in the Allegheny County Jail.

Additional Reading:

Cleveland, Ohio, Community Police Commission and Police Oversight Initiative (November 2021)

Notable local police-related ballot measures (2021)