Uniting for change: Hundreds offer suggestions for community, police to work together

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CLEVELAND-- More than 1,100 people from different backgrounds, different religious denominations and different parts of town packed Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland Tuesday night with one purpose: They came to present their collective and thoughtfully-prepared recommendations for reform within the Cleveland Division of Police to Mayor Frank Jackson, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty, US Attorney Steven Dettelbach and a US Department of Justice civil rights attorney who flew in for the event.

Those gathered are part of the Greater Cleveland Congregations group or GCC, which has been meeting with local leaders on a number of community issues since forming in 2011.

They said they’re concerned about the DOJ’s investigation and findings concerning “a pattern of unreasonable use of force” within the Cleveland Police Department and also several high-profile police-involved shootings.

“I really believe in the power of people coming together around things they care about,” said Holly Trifiro, “And I think this is an issue our community has to address together.”

Their recommendations include, in part: constitutional policing; bias-free policing; use-of-force changes; more accountability; greater transparency; and significantly better training, especially when dealing with people with behavioral disorders.

They also want an independent inspector general or auditor to oversee compliance with any newly-established policies and procedures.

US Attorney Steven Dettlebach told the crowd that this was the 13th set of suggestions they’ve received.  He assured them that all of the recommendations are being taken very seriously and will be considered moving forward.

People attending hope that’s true and they even gave a standing ovation to all dedicated first responders, because they said that’s the only way to make the city safer for everyone and with true equality.

“I know in my heart right now that working together with the community and police department will make a difference,” said Rev. Karell McDaniel.

**Continuing coverage right here**