CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland plans to hire a private firm to complete a backlog of unfinished investigations into citizen complaints against police, according to a court filing.
The city outlined its plan to hire the company Friday, Cleveland.com reported. At issue is the city’s Office of Professional Standards, which has had difficulties for years finishing investigations or doing them correctly,
The city has worked with a federal monitor to try and solve the issues within the office. The monitor was hired in 2015 as part of an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice after an investigation found a pattern of excessive force among Cleveland police officers.
Cleveland hired more investigators and worked with the monitor to cut cases, but nothing seemed to work. Head monitor Matthew Barge testified in November that part of the problem is the city’s lack of urgency in cutting cases.
The professional standards office had 378 open investigations as of last month, with 218 from complaints filed in 2016 and 2015. U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver Jr. said at the November hearing, "more intrusive" options might be necessary if the office doesn’t reduce its case load.
Workers from an outside investigative company, which has not yet been hired, will address cases filed between 2015 and 2017, according to the city’s court filing. The city said the backlog of cases will be cleared within a year.
The agency’s six full-time investigators and six temporary ones will focus on completing investigations into complaints filed next year, the city said. Investigators working on 2018 complaints will have to finish two cases a month.
The agency will also hire a community engagement coordinator to keep the public informed on its activities.