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City officials are always available by phone or email. Please visit the website at shakeronline.com to view contact information for City Council, Mayor, CAO, and Department Directors. Also, the public is always invited to public meetings, which are listed on the meetings calendar on shakeronline.com.
Full question: Can the police be more proactive? Could this presentation be done for the community more broadly? It sounds like Marty did this at Boulevard but that is a K-4 school. We have so many other sites that could benefit from that information. Here is what the ACLU says we should teach our children: https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights/stopped-by-police/
Answer: Marty Dunn is currently the only officer in our Community Relations Unit, but he regularly attends meetings throughout the community and would be glad to present this information anywhere it would be helpful. During the pandemic, some of these opportunities for engagement have been limited, but Officer Dunn is available for Zoom meetings until in person meetings can take place. Because of the importance of community engagement, increasing our staff in the Community Relations Unit continues to be an organizational goal.
Full question: How do we create a police department that engages the community and lessens the divide? I look at some of the things that Camden, NJ police force has done to build greater rapport such as having new officers introduce themselves to the neighborhood they patrol. Also, I feel it’s important that communities that have been historically oppressed by LE must find a way to inspire youth to serve. The police must reflect the communities they serve and should/must include those from the community. A two way effort needs to happen for the future. All about the long game.
Answer: See answer above. In addition, all of our officers work to find ways to engage the community. For example, officers are often found playing basketball on local playgrounds, practicing skateboarding with kids, throwing a football when they see a game underway, handing out “tickets” for a Frosty at Wendy’s for being “caught” doing a good deed, or chatting with residents while out on bike patrol. Officers are encouraged to find ways to get out of their cars and connect with residents in the community, not only because it’s part of their job, but also because they value getting to know residents.
Regarding inspiring people to serve: We agree and take this very seriously, which is why we have worked hard to transform our recruitment practices https://www.shakeronline.com/720/Recruitment-Hiring to expand the number of qualified applicants who chose to apply.
As the Chief of Police, I am unaware of any recommendation made to our Department to join this group. We would certainly be open to the idea.
Full question: We hear a lot about what parents tell their Black children about how to interact with the police to hopefully stay safe, but I would like to hear from the police about what they want to tell all children, teens and adults about what to do and not do when interacting with the police to reduce the risk of things escalating. I think it would also be a good idea for the police to know the specific information parents are telling their children so the police are aware of those instructions and won’t be surprised or confused about someone behaving a certain way.
Answer: Our Department regularly presents this kind of information to groups throughout the City, though it has been difficult during the pandemic. Our presentations focus on what to do when questioned by the police, either as a driver of a car, a witness, or a victim.
As an aspect of these interactions and presentations, we discuss appropriate actions when stopped by the police in a car. These appropriate actions include keeping your hands where a police officer can see them, limiting movements while in the car, especially at night and simply not running away from the police. We always talk about issues surrounding a person’s refusal to identify themselves and what to do when officers may be executing a search warrant and what it means to give consent to searches. We have had some conversations with SHHS students, residents and specific community groups to learn more about what parents are telling their children about what to do if they are stopped by police. It is incredibly helpful for us to understand this better and we appreciate this kind of dialogue. We are always open to learning more.
Full question: Would it be possible for our officers to be more proactive? For instance, for the two examples shared tonight: Visit each place of worship 2-3 times/year. Work with high school groups regularly - even create a youth advisory group.
Answer: Our Department is continually looking for new and additional opportunities for community engagement. Click here for examples of recent community engagement work. Please fill out our community engagement request form or direct suggestions should be directed to Sgt. Tim Grafton.
Young people have something important to say. We learn more about them through conversation. For example – 3 officers met with 3 African American male students at the high school. Students asked questions and officers were able to offer explanations and let them know they were empathetic to the young men’s concerns.
The students left with a better understanding of what officers go through. In addition, the officers gained a better understanding of the young peoples’ perceptions. Everyone agreed at the end of the evening that honest and open communication can be extremely beneficial to the betterment of the relationship. Parents that observed were pleased with the interaction.
There are also visits by officers to the high school football practice, just to converse with the young men.
These types of exercises establish relationships. Research shows that through communication there is a correlative decline in allegations of bias based policing. Our Department understands that establishing these relationships and links in the community will allow us to become more successful and legitimized to our community as a police department.
We are working to develop a communication process for this. We do plan to post new policies on the Police webpage and will include the date of the most recent update.
We have given a great deal of thought to this concept, including possible a junior police academy that may be offered for high school credit.
Sgt. Tim Grafton supervises the Community Relations Unit. Ptl. Marty Dunn has been a Community Relations Officer since 2014 when he applied for the position. At that time, we had two officers in the unit and one has since retired. We have not been able to replace that officer due to staffing shortages that have not been filled through the hiring process.
Our department had a couple events planned focused on developing relationships with teen groups. Unfortunately, due to the type of event, we had place them on hold due to the pandemic. Tentatively, we have an interactive event with SAMS still in the planning stages wherein the youth and the officers will interact in ways that will include role playing, a Q & A session and finally a roundtable discussion. We are always looking for more opportunities. Click here for some examples of our community engagement work.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, we participated with the Recreation Department on Zoom meetings with teens. We have also participated in the lunch give away where officers were present and interacting with the youth. When school began, our officers, through Zoom, have been instructing high school students on internet safety. Lastly, we have tentatively set up an interactive event with SAMS where youth and the officers participate virtually in role playing, a Q & A session and finally a roundtable discussion.
Shaker Heights police officers have utilized body cameras for more than five years and dash cams for more than 10 years. These cameras have malfunctioned periodically over the years and on occasion officers have failed to activate them. The frequency of both of these occurrences has declined substantially as officers are now accustomed to using them and the technical support for malfunctions has improved.
In circumstances when it should have been activated but was not, there is an investigation into why this occurred and officers may be subject to disciplinary action, if warranted. Presently, we are at the end of the useful life of our current body cam system. The age of the system can also cause malfunctions resulting in a failure to activate.
In 2020, City Council approved the purchase of a new camera system so we are in the process of purchasing and activating a new system. It has significant improvements due to new technology. One of the enhancements is that dash cams and body worn cams are automatically activated when cruiser lights are turned on.
Officers who violate the policies related to operation of the Body Worn Cameras are subject to progressive discipline up to and possibly including termination if the behavior is egregious and or continuous.
Full question: Use of Force policies provide a roadmap for training. Items not written into the policy may or may not be covered in a training session. Written items provide a template for training. Items not specifically written in the Shake Heights Police Department’s Use of Force Policy are: a statement of the sanctity of life; detailed descriptions of objective reasonableness, necessity, proportionality, and de-escalation; de-escalation techniques; circumstances under which use of force is strictly prohibited; and, duty to intervene when any use of force is unauthorized. Will the Shaker Heights Police Department expand their use of force policy to include the items mentioned above?
Answer: Our Use of Force Policy is called Response to Threats Policy. It is one of a number of policies that we are reviewing during this process. Our review will include items outlined in this question. Once we have completed this review and made any necessary changes, the policy will be posted on our website.
Currently, only police officers are assigned to respond to calls involving residents with mental health issues. All of our officers have had some training in how to respond to these types of calls and are knowledgeable about outside resources they can call on for additional assistance.
Complaints, and the investigations that result from them, are kept in the personnel file for 10 years. If a suspension results from the complaint, it cannot be removed from a personnel file. If the resulting discipline is an oral or written reprimand, an officer can request that this disciplinary action be removed after three years.
Currently, the most significant challenge we are facing is related to recruitment, hiring, and retention practices and policies. The challenges are related to the current context in which police are working and the conversations around police reform. We are faced with an ever-shrinking pool of applicants and have challenges retaining those who are hired. Considerable time is spent refining our policies and practices around recruitment in an effort to meet our goals and overcome these obstacles.
There are indeed circumstances where it is unlawful to run from the police. However, each situation is different and based on the total set of circumstances, rendering it a real challenge if not an impossibility, to contemplate each and every scenario where it would be unlawful to run away from the police.
All complaints are turned over to the Office of Internal Affairs and the investigations surrounding those complaints are kept for 10 years.
During the pandemic, as always, officers will continue to lawfully stop individuals if there is a “reasonable and articulable suspicion” that would warrant further investigation by them. “Reasonable and articulable suspicion” is the constitutional guideline that an officer must use when stopping someone to further investigate a situation. It is important to note that there are also citizen-police encounters that are initiated by residents.
Full question: Police are often required to do more than policing. They are asked to be therapists, social workers, psychologists, etc. Why not partner with community agencies that have expertise in these areas to accompany officers on calls or when appropriate to handle the call?
Answer: Our Department frequently interacts with social service agencies during calls for service and subsequent investigations. At the present time, community agencies do not handle calls for service that originated with or involved the calling of the police.
Full question: Has the City considered instituting a civilian oversight component to serve those complainants who are less than comfortable with the notion that that the Department will adequately investigate itself?
Answer: The concept of a civilian oversight board regarding complaints against officers and the Department is one of several proposals being reviewed as part of overall police reform. A review process currently exists when officers are involved in critical incidents that includes citizens as members of the of the reviewing body.
Our General Order 0112 – Bias Free Policing speaks to both of these issues.
Our Racial Profile Statement was originally enacted on March 31, 2003. This statement is annually reviewed by our officers. Equally as important, our officers receive annual training in bias free policing wherein the subject of racial profiling is addressed.
Our Department does not use a discipline matrix. While there are types of officer misconduct where termination will be the discipline, there are likewise circumstances where discipline is progressive in nature with the predominate goal being corrective or curative.
Full question: What specific changes are being made to create a culture of intervention for excessive force or unnecessary detainment within the department; providing assurance and safety to those officers who choose to intervene. How is this clearly documented?
Answer: All hires are instructed/trained in these areas in new officer orientation during their Ethics Component which is specifically taught by the Chief of Police. It is also focus throughout their field training program with a senior officer. These expectations are then reinforced through annual review of the Bias Free Policing policy which includes our Racial Profile Statement and a requirement of a duty to intervene.
The principles of riot and crowd control prioritize the protection of people and then prioritize the protection of private homes and businesses.
The use of the LVNR (Lateral Vascular Neck Restraint) is presently being reviewed by our Department. As a practical matter, pending review, our Department has not trained officers in LVNR for several years and as a result have only approximately 3 officers currently employed with the Department who possess such training.
At the present time, we do not have any residency requirements.
The policy is labeled Response to Threats and is presently on our website.
Prior to appointment, all officer candidates go through extensive psychological testing.
All applicants must be at least 21 years of age at the time of appointment.
Full question: Are you reviewing the policy of having officers placed in our school buildings? Please address your perspective on why it is deemed necessary or constructive, given the message it sends to students about school climate?
Answer: Having police officers working in the school buildings is a decision made by the school system, not the police department. With that said, officers inside of the school buildings have found wonderful opportunities for relationship building between students and officers.
Full question: Besides unofficial friendship building, what is the department doing in terms of systematic relationship strengthening with (especially marginalized) Shaker community members. Mainly, does the department have awareness of or plan to institute restorative justice practices into the department/local criminal justice system?
Answer: Our department has participated in restorative justice exercises in collaboration with the high school and exercises authorized by the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court in lieu of prosecution. The City’s website lists some of our community engagement activities which documents some of how we participate in community relationship building.
The Mayor, Council and members of the Management Team have met with representatives from both of this group to discuss the proposal. The proposal presents recommendations for police reforms, many of which are being discussed within the larger context of reform work related to the SHPD. We anticipate that the suggestions contained in the proposal will positively influence the work of the City throughout our comprehensive evaluation of police policies and reform work.
Full question: The community has expressed fear of the police despite efforts to make inroads in community engagement. An obvious solution to this is reducing the police that carry guns to the absolute essential cases such as a report of a violent gunman. Would you be open to creating a police task force for traffic/non-violent crime that would not carry guns?
Answer: We are unable to support this suggestion. The safety of officers and the public precludes such support. In many cases, calls for service don’t provide the full context for the situation, so it would be too risky for the officers to respond without being fully prepared for what they may encounter.
Full question: In providing context for how difficult it is for officers to conduct traffic stops, is officer Dunn perhaps insinuating that we should explore shifting that responsibility to unarmed public works officers as Berkeley, CA. City Council has recently done?
Answer: No. Officer Dunn was explaining how he educates the public so that they can better understand how their behavior affects the way officers respond during interactions with the police.
Full question: What alternatives exist in Shaker to calling an armed officer to respond to conflict? Is there a mediation program available or are there social service organizations that will respond to community problems?
Answer: When a resident feels it is necessary to call SHPD in regard to what they consider a conflict, officers will arrive armed, as they do to every call for service for reasons explained above. There isn’t a mediation program or social service agency that provides services described here, but SHPD officers are trained and aware of how and when to call upon specific social service organizations for additional assistance.
Full question: Who have you been listening to and what have you been reading to help you think innovatively about what policing needs to be in modern society? If you have not yet done so, please consider listening to an interview with Christy Lopez, Professor and co-leader of Georgetown Law’s Program on Innovative Policing. Link is attached below. https://www.cityclub.org/forums/2020/07/17/what-does-it-mean-to-defund-the-police.
Answer: The Supervision, Command Staff, and Officers of the Police Department read, listen and learn from a wide variety of resources to help shape the Department to be more innovative in our responsiveness to our community needs. In addition, they have attended and will continue to attend short and long-term professional training in search of learning and to reach a better understanding modern policing. We appreciate the suggestion concerning Professor Lopez’s podcast at The City Club of Cleveland and will review its contents.
Police reform is extraordinarily important and complex, and as a result takes time. While we have been engaged in transformation for many years, we know that many opportunities to improve and innovate still exist. Effective and lasting change requires resources, and well-thought-out approaches, which we are committed to. We are actively engaged in this process and hope you will stay up to date about our progress by visiting the police webpage which will be updated as we implement changes.
We can assure you that we are dedicated to meaningful and positive reform no matter the timeline for its implantation and recognize the importance of efficiency.
Our Department encourages suggestions and feedback from the community we serve and will continue to do so. Many of the ideas we use in Community Engagement have come directly from community suggestions. In addition, streamlining overnight permission to park and development of the Mission of the Department are additional examples.
We are committed to ongoing evaluation and updating of police policies and practices and consider this a constant work in progress. We believe a modern police department is one that works in partnership with the community to respond to its specific needs and expectations. Community input, directives from the Governor, and requirements from our accreditation agency, CALEA, will continue to guide our work.
We always listen to input from teens. It helps us understand how policies and practices impact them. However, due to complex process for changing practices and policies, often involving our accrediting agency, we can’t point directly to a policy or practice that we’ve changed solely due to a conversation with a teen.
The Shaker Heights Police Department has actively participated in restorative justice exercises in connection with both our Community Diversion Program and with the Shaker Heights school system. Information on officer training in the areas of unconscious bias and anti-racism for the last five years is available on the City’s website. As part of the City’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion work, Council and the Management Team have participated in a training session with Erica Merritt from Equius Group. Additional sessions are being scheduled.
Full question: Aside from Prosecutor Keller and bias free training, who develops the curriculum for each substantive training area that Shaker officers are required to attend? To what extent does the Department rely on OPOTA for the training of its officers?
Answer: Our officers attend a vast array of annual training from an equally vast array of sources and resources. The sources and resources for the development of curriculum do include OPOTA, various other national and state training entities, as well as internal instruction from supervisors or other officers that are certified instructors in the training subject matter.
The discharge of a service weapon is a use of deadly force and is subject to evaluation under the guidelines set forth in the Department’s current general order entitled Response To Threats, which is posted on the website. Any use of deadly force and its justification are legally required to be evaluated in the backdrop of that general order and on the total set of circumstances that resulted in its use. Officers receive extensive training in response to threats and the use of deadly force.
Full question: The Department’s website talks about bias-free training including classes, roll-call meetings and handouts. How much active training (as opposed to passive reading or listening to a lecture) is required of officers annually? What kind of additional training do officers receive on trauma-responsiveness, de-escalation, mental health issues, etc? How are these trainings evaluated for effectiveness?
Answer: While some of our training occurs in classroom settings, the Department also utilizes several other forums. We utilize role play and dynamic simulation training. The annual flagship training course on bias free policing has a significant amount of interactive participation, requiring officers to participate in scenario-based examples during which they participate in panel discussions and focus groups. Officers are frequently asked to advocate and comment on positions other than that of law enforcement to ensure they fully understand different perspectives on any given situation.
Mental health, stress and trauma, and de-escalation are circumstances that are continuously and regularly included in and related to our bias free police training and in several other training areas and exercises.
Our training effectiveness is evaluated during our biannual evaluation by CALEA, our national accreditation organization. CALEA sets several benchmarks associated with bias-free policing that we must meet to maintain our accreditation. We also have maintained compliance with the Ohio Collaborative recommendations in this area of policing. Currently, we are looking at the myriad of suggested reforms and input about bias free policing.
Lastly, we evaluate our effectiveness based on the number of complaints we receive pertaining to biased behavior in a citizen-police encounter.
Full question: In many fields there is required continuing education. How is the Shaker Heights Police Department and administration continuing their education on racial and social disparities? Is everyone required to read books like “How to be an Anti-Racist” or “White Fragility”, etc.”?
Answer: Continuing professional education is mandated by policy within our Department. As outlined by on our website, much of this training is centered on racial and social disparities. When the opportunity arises, we do watch movies and documentaries that help to illuminate these issues. For example, we recently watched the documentary 13th, which gave officers a whole new understanding of the 13th amendment. Our officers have not been required to read the books mentioned in this question.
All records related to Departmental training are lawfully available via a public records request.
Officer re-instruction is informally handled through supervisory counseling sessions. More formally it is handled through documentation on performance evaluations of areas in need of training and how that training is received, which includes individualized Performance Improvement Plans.
Full question: It is encouraging to see the Department include a few select policies on the website. Does the City plan to make all of the Department’s policies readily accessible on line? In the spirit of transparency, it would be very helpful to have access to all of them, especially those on search and seizure, use of force (all levels) as well as any policies on youth interactions.
Answer: We are in the process of updating and revising additional policies in preparation for posting on the website. They will be added to what is already available. In order to post all of the Department’s policies, we will need time to do research about the most cost effective way to post them so that they are searchable. Posting all of them would total approximately 1000 pages of documents. In the meantime, the public can request specific policies of interest through a public records request.
All collective bargaining agreements in the State of Ohio can be found on the State Employment Relations Board (SERB) website: https://serb.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/serb/documents-and-decisions/collective-bargaining-agreements
As with the vast majority of records of the Shaker Heights Police Department, records that pertain to complaints, compliments, and concerns can be obtained through a public records request.
By policy, the Critical Incident Review Committee is comprised of the following: the Law Director or designee, an Investigative Unit Supervsor; the Officer-in-Charge at the time of the incident and two citizen members chosen by the Chief of Police. Historically, these meetings have not been public meetings although any and all documents prepared in connection with the meetings, that are not subject to a privilege, may be made available through a public records request.
See previous answer.
Historically, these meetings have not been public meetings. The results of the Committee deliberations are memorialized in memorandum form and provided to the Chief of Police. These can be requested through a public records request.
Commander John Cole is in charge of our Internal Affairs function.
One officer of color has been hired from our last entrance exam, that was conducted in August and September of 2019. He remains with our Department. Click here for the demographics of our department.
We are striving to ensure that our police department reflects the diversity of the community. Click here for our current demographic makeup.
There was a short period of time wherein the City did require new police hires to live in the City. That requirement was dropped a number of years ago for a variety of reasons including being a deterrent to potential new hires who don’t want to move for personal or financial reasons.
We hope that the information we’ve shared about social distancing, hand washing and mask wearing will help Shaker residents feel confident during COVID.
All complaints can be made through a Police Complaint Form which are available at the Police Department window at the Police/Court Complex (3355 Lee Road), which is then forwarded to our Internal Affairs Unit for investigation.
Full question: What resources are available to officers experiencing trauma? Are officers ever instructed to stand down or otherwise temporarily removed from active service to receive treatment for trauma or exceptional stress?
Answer: There are several resources available to officers who experience trauma or exceptional stress. These resources are provided through the City, the Cuyahoga County Critical Incident Stress Management Team, and there is also a private company that offers services upon retainer.
There are circumstances when officers are deemed to be unfit for duty due to trauma and consequently relieved from duty. This relief is more often temporary. However, in some rare or extraordinary circumstance, relief from duty could potentially be permanent.
The concept of a civilian oversight board regarding complaints against officers and the Department is one of several proposals being reviewed as part of overall police reform. A review process currently exists when officers are involved in critical incidents that includes citizens as members of the of the reviewing body.
Full question: Do you ask your prospective officers why do they want to serve? It can’t be just about benefits and a pension. This is a public servant job. Also are there plans to have a mental health trained officer to accompany officers on calls? Thank you.
Answer: Yes. We ask this question many times during the hiring process to be certain that candidates understand that, if hired, they will be serving the public.
There are no present plans for this.
Full question: I’m wondering if the Shaker Heights police department has received any military-grade weaponry or surplus military gear from the Pentagon or other federal agencies through the 1033 program or any other similar program?
Answer: Our Department has received equipment from the 1033 Program. Last year, we suspended our participation in the program.
Full question: It sounds like we have a lot of hiring efforts going on. What does the data look like? How many black candidates, female candidates, etc have joined the force since 2016? (the year it sounds like this started)
Answer: Since 2016, a total of five (5) black candidates and one (1) female candidate (African-American) has been hired by our department. Click here for the current demographic makeup of the department.
Our engagement through the bike patrol has been curtailed by two issues at the moment: the pandemic and manpower considerations. We still have officers out on bikes, but their mission has been focused more crime prevention rather than in person community interaction in an effort to keep everyone healthy.
Mayor Weiss has signed the Obama Foundation - Commit to Action Pledge.