Proposed Cleveland police policy would expressly forbid racial profiling, acting on bias

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A draft of a policy designed to prohibit Cleveland police officers from injecting their own bias about race or any demographic category when investigating cases or responding to calls is being circulated for public feedback.

The proposed policy, one that the city drafted, is part of a settlement the city reached with the Justice Department to reform its police department. The Justice Department received complaints from black residents who said they felt they were racially profiled.

It was posted Tuesday to the team hired to monitor’s the city’s progress under the settlement, known as a consent decree.

(You can read the policy here, as well as at the bottom of this story.)

The proposed policy says officers shall act professionally and treat people with courtesy and respect. Officers must “make all decisions related to law enforcement activities based upon observed behavior, reasonable suspicion, and/or probable cause,” it says.

It also explicitly says that officers must conduct themselves “without discrimination on the basis of an individual’s demographic category.” Officers are encouraged to be open when interacting with people, taking steps to identify themselves and state the reasons for any measures they are taking.

If a member of the public has a complaint, an officer must provide a form to open a case with the Office of Professional Standards, according to the proposed policy.

It also expressly forbids certain behaviors, such as determining that someone is a suspect or guilty based on a person’s demographic category, as well as using any harassing or derogatory language concerning any demographic category.

Officers who witness colleagues acting with bias should report the behavior. Those who act with bias or fail to report or address it will be disciplined, the proposed policy states.

The Justice Department’s investigation into the police department didn’t set out to examine racial bias on the part of officers. But a December…

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