I TEAM: new questions about expenses of group overseeing Cleveland police reform

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CLEVELAND - The FOX 8 I TEAM is investigating new questions about your money and members of a federal  monitoring group earning $250 an hour to oversee reforms in the Cleveland Police Department.

Cleveland Councilman Brian Kazy says he has been doing an analysis of bills submitted by the group.  That group includes more than a dozen members including 4 in Cleveland.

Kazy said, “It’s fiscally irresponsible. It’s almost thievery to the city.”

He said he’s bothered by inconsistencies in records submitted by the local members. He said, “We were finding inconsistencies every single month.” Adding, “They were charging different times to the city of Cleveland for how long they were meeting with each other.”

More questions, too, about times billed by monitors for going to council meetings. In one case, Kazy found, “The city council meeting  lasted 31 minutes. And he charged the city of Cleveland 1.5 hours.”

Matthew Barge leads the monitoring group. He told the I TEAM, “Our commitment is to doing this job right. We’re gonna work the number of hours required.” “And he added, “We’re really trying to provide as many hours as possible…free of charge.”

Councilman Kazy has also questioned the hundreds of hours some police monitors say they’re putting in for free.

We also reviewed bills from a meeting in Chicago the group had last November. We noticed “14 Deli Sandwiches at $43.00 Per Person.” Barge says the firm he works for paid for that food, not the city.

He adds, the group is making progress and will soon have new recommendations for the use-of-force policy and more.

Nonetheless, Kazy said, “And any opportunity we get, we’re gonna bring it to their attention that we know what they’re charging.”

All of the bills and expenses must be approved by a federal judge overseeing a Consent Decree for Cleveland Police Department reform.