Civilians to Investigate Officer Complaints

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

(File photo)

CLEVELAND — The city is changing how investigations against police officers are being handled.

Police officers will no longer be doing the review.

Director of Public Safety Martin Flask says the move was made to help the community have more trust in the process. He said civilian investigators will now be in charge of investigating citizen complaints, such as excessive force, filed against officers.

The two police sergeants currently doing the job will be reassigned.

Last year, there were around 550 complaints filed against city police officers. So far this year, about 480 complaints have been made.

“It’s an issue of community trust,” Flask said. “I think our community has more confidence in investigations being done by people not so closely linked to the Division of Police. The complaint I often heard was we had police officers investigating police officers.”

Police Union President Jeff Follmer says he is concerned with the change because he doesn’t think the citizen investigators will be as familiar with police protocol.

Cassandra Blesdoe, the administrator with the Office of Professional Standards, says the new investigators have considerable experience and can conduct a factual and impartial investigation.

The new investigators hired are Vincent Funari, who previously worked as an investigator in the city’s division of license and assignments, and Barbara Williams, who worked as a special project assistant with Cleveland Municipal Court.