CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) — Cleveland Heights Mayor Kahlil Seren has responded to a video of a traffic stop in Cleveland Heights that went viral.
The traffic stop that happened on Sept. 22, 2022 ended with a complaint filed against a Cleveland Heights police sergeant and a call for a change in policy regarding complaints related to police conduct, the mayor explained in a letter sent to city residents.
During the traffic stop, a driver was handcuffed and cited for obstruction of official business, a charge that was dismissed eleven days later at the request of the city prosecutor.
A few hours following the traffic stop, the driver came to Cleveland Heights City Hall and filed a complaint against the officer.
After an investigation, Chief Chris Britton ordered the police sergeant to attend a de-escalation training session.
Mayor Kahlil explains in the letter that he first became aware of the incident because of the viral video featuring edited clips of police body camera, seen here.
“Due to policies adopted under previous form of government, it has been the practice of the Cleveland Heights Division of Police to internally investigate and resolve complaints about police conduct without notifying the City Manager/Mayor,” he said in the letter.
After reviewing the unedited police body camera video, seen here, the mayor says he believes this incident calls for a policy change.
“I believe, however, that this situation clearly demonstrates that existing policy in Cleveland Heights is insufficient for a government with an elected mayor and illuminates why these policies must change,” he said. “Executive oversight of the Division of Police must become the standard in Cleveland Heights.”
He said he’s already moving toward change in how Cleveland Heights handles complaints about police conduct, starting with an announcement made last year that he would create a new Bureau of Professional Standards within the Cleveland Heights Division of Police to formalize accountability.
He said he plans to appoint the first captain for the bureau next month.
“In consultation with City Administrator Sinnott, Chief Britton, and the captain of this new bureau, I will update our policies and procedures for receiving, investigating, resolving, and reporting complaints related to police conduct,” he said.
The mayor is conducting an administrative review of the September traffic stop and said he’ll release his determinations shortly.