Leave the Recruits Out of It, Cleveland Police Say

     (CN) – Though federal authorities have flayed Cleveland police for their pattern of excessive force, a union for those officers have gone to court to keep hold of their new recruits.
     Without notifying the city council or civil service commission, the mayor and director of public safety signed a deal with the Ohio State Patrol for Cleveland recruits to receive several months of training in Columbus, more than 140 miles away, according to a complaint filed Wednesday in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas.
     The Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association says the move is part of a “knee-jerk” reaction to the city’s settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice.
     Though the feds had been investigating Cleveland since March 2013, their blistering report about the Cleveland Police Department’s “troubling patterns” of using excessive and deadly force against suspects came just a week after Cleveland police shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice in the park where the boy had been playing with a toy gun.
     A federal judge approved Cleveland’s settlement to the Justice Department action on June 12, one day after a Cleveland judge called for the officers involved in Rice’s shooting to face murder, manslaughter and dereliction-of-duty charges.
     The policemen’s union claims that the city’s latest class of police officers is bound to shrink if the city moves their training now.
     Moving the training is an “impermissible delegation of duty” under state law, the union says, calling for an injunction.
     In a news release, the union’s president called the change “extremely unfair” to recruits who have invested time and money in their training.
     “Our academy is second to none,” Steve Loomis stated in the release. “Our instructors and guest instructors are a diverse group of officers and civilians extremely familiar with the needs of Cleveland and the rules, regulations and policies that govern the way we police our city.”
     The union says the move fails to account for proper compensation under federal and state law, and liabilities in the case of an accident, among other things.
     “Furthermore, the reason large municipalities have their own police academy is to conduct hands on training specifically to prepare the future officers to be responsive to the needs of their municipality,” the complaint states.
     “Under this Memorandum of Understanding, the new class will receive generic instructions from a militaristic entity at the same time the City of Cleveland is calling for officers to become more ‘guardians than warriors.'”
     The union is represented by Brian Moriarty and Marisa Serrat.
     Neither the city nor the union responded immediately to a request for comment.
     Compounding tensions in Cleveland over Rice’s shooting, a judge acquitted another Cleveland police officer, Michael Brelo, in an unrelated incident where unarmed black citizens died.

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