CPOP is a core policing principle that refers to the manner in which the Cleveland Division of Police will proactively engage the community to create partnerships and co-produce public safety.

“No CPOP without engaging the Community”

As a member of the Cleveland Community Police Commission (CPC), my role is to work to remove challenges that cause responses to sound like a single narrative or story.  I want to be part of a CPOP narrative process that helps community members obtain power and be welcomed in applying the knowledge that they have acquired from personal stories or stories of the extended family who have had interactions with law enforcement. We want to remove the challenge created when unexamined cultural discourse leads to oppressing a community member’s agency in claiming his or her own self-knowledge about their own experiences (M. White 2007).

Studies have shown that a constant emphasis on remembering the pain and agitating anger in community organizing wears people down physically. It’s important to balance pain and anger with faith and hope as a healthy way of refreshing and rejuvenating one’s commitment to lead change. We believe CPOP is a major cornerstone where the voice of the community and the premise of safety in neighborhoods to promote healthy relations will yield us a collective vision for productive ways to address concerns turn toward a new reality. The best solutions for community concerns and problems arise from citizens co-creating possibilities through open relationships. The Commission remains committed to reaching out to and bringing forward the voice of those who are most vulnerable amongst us. Getting to know community members that do not typically attend meetings and who may have little trust in officers requires officers to engage them in places where they are most comfortable (pg.12, draft CPOP policy).

Can we live into the basic principle of organizing which is the practice of bringing people together to create systemic change in their own community? Cleveland’s diverse neighborhoods require that we link communities with different ethnic and geographic identities in a common search for power to make a change! In our search for shalom, we will join the struggle for justice with wisdom and a long-term commitment to “stay the course.” When our quest is to have the entire community feel whole and healthy, we must work to ensure that its weaker members are recognized and supported as civic partners.

Remembering that the May 2018 CPOP draft policy is a response to community member voices during the summer of 2017 where at least five of the demands from the community for a CPOP policy included consideration of the following best practices as part of a response[1]

  • Demands respect for Community Members – The draft policy comes up short on this demand. Whereas on page 12, paragraph c, community engagement is mentioned in the context of a revised CDP approach, it is weak and noncommittal to forging practices that would lead to respect. Community engagement does not need to be complicated but it must address the legacy challenges in a  Many towns struggle to engage low-income residents or residents of color and fail to benefit from the  expertise, insight or perspective  from these populations.
  • Demands for officers to have time to get acquainted with residents in their work zone -Residents want officers to seek out relationships with leaders from non-represented Work with them to identify the barriers to engagement and ways to bridge the divide in their community. Also, engage faith-based organizations in the community  to help bring hard-to-reach residents on board— helping to reach beyond the “usual”  voices.
  • A more intentional connection between the community and District Policing Committees and the Police Commission – A best practice is to ask who is missing from the meeting; make a targeted outreach plan for that group; go where people are and make the engagement process accessible and meaningful to community members.
  • More intentional connections between CDP and organizations like CDCs – Officers should develop an awareness of the  racial and economic disparities in the city or region in which they work and why those disparities exist  (informed by experienced  community leaders and organizations). Consider attending community meetings and cultural events as a Practice listening to the issues that are raised and discussed  and how they are talked about in community settings.  Officers should want to practice maintaining a sense of humility and awareness of potential power dynamics due to race,  ethnic,  citizenship,  class,  or gender differences in these settings. Try hosting a “meet and greet” with community organizations and advocacy groups.[2]
  • Community members would like an ongoing opportunity to provide input on CDP policies.

The Consent Decree requires that the Monitoring Teamwork with the CDP and the Cleveland Community Police Commission (CPC) engage the community as the CDP develops its community and problem-oriented policing (CPOP) Plan and other policy work. Community input and community voice through stories is a critical component of an effective 21st Century Policing Plan.

Our question to community members remains … “Does the draft CPOP policy address your documented concerns?

The benefits  of  a  healthy  engagement  process  are  many:

  1. Legitimacy and increased support for plans and projects. Governments enacting plans with the support of the community will have  the buy in necessary. This will mean  the difference between wasted resources and a thriving community.
  2. Ownership when  the community feels respected and heard the more they will feel pride in their community and  government.
  3. Creating new  resources  that  the  community  will  actually  use  will  lead  to  a  more  vibrant
  4. Healing of historic racial and economic Healing community rifts is not a simple process and cannot be achieved through  a  few planning processes.  However, when governments operate  transparent, honest community engagement they offer opportunities for healing.  When governments do not shy away from difficult topics they build legitimacy for themselves and become partners in healing historic disparities.
  5. No matter how knowledgeable  a city staff is they can’t be aware of all the community concerns  and  voices without seeking that  input.    Community members know their neighborhoods best and will be able to offer valuable  insights.
  6. Reduction in long term savings will be captured if a process can avoid  litigation costs down the  road.    Furthermore, an underutilized project might face more improvement costs in the shorter term.[3]


Over the CPC three-year history, there has been active participation in overhauling the Citizen Police Review Board in a way that makes it more effective in its role of reviewing and processing citizen complaints filed against Cleveland Police; set guidelines to work toward eliminating implicit or unconscious and explicit or conscious bias in decision making; guidelines regarding Use of Force that will support skills that create an environment of cooperation and de-escalation alongside tactical skills; and supporting the rewriting and reframing of the mission statement for CDP.


Remembering that there are always more sides to the story than you are told; there is more truth that needs to be told. Have you added your side (your voice) to the CPOP draft policy story?


Please check back to this conversation as we continue analyzing a response to the draft CPOP policy!

[1] FRESC: Good Jobs, Strong Communities

[2] FRESC: Good Jobs, Strong Communities


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