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RE: Support for CPC search and seizure policy recommendations

This letter is addressed to Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams and Cleveland Police Monitor Matthew Barge

February 22, 2019

Dear Chief Williams and Mr. Barge:

The Ohio Immigrant Alliance (OHIA) supports the Cleveland Community Police Commission revisions to Cleveland Division of Police search and seizure policies outlined in its letter sent earlier this week. OHIA urges you to adopt the CPC’s recommendations wholesale. We believe these changes should be seen as the beginning, and not the end, of reforming our criminal justice system.

As I wrote in a paper for the American Immigration Council, efforts by the federal government to involve state and local police in enforcing civil immigration laws hurts the local crime-fighting mission. Public safety is meant for all members of the public, regardless of their citizenship status. Too many policies and practices at the local, state, and federal level today run counter to that mission.

Last month, the Kent County (MI) Sheriff’s Department changed its immigration enforcement policy after the county transferred a U.S. citizen to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be processed for deportation, instead of releasing him as the law required. Several courts have found that recognizing ICE “detainers” leads to constitutional violations and potential liability for state and local governments.

It is in the best interests of both public safety and constitutional integrity that the Cleveland Division of Police implement reforms to ensure that all members of our communities are able to access police protection and justice, regardless of citizenship status.

To reiterate, OHIA supports the following recommendations made by the Cleveland Community Police Commission, as a first step toward broader reforms:

  1. Incorporating Fourth Amendment best practices to protect individual rights, including prohibiting coercion and informing a person during a consensual stop that they are free to leave;

  2. Providing guidance for searches of transgender individuals, to comply with law and best practices;

  3. Including protections for youth, who may not understand their rights or appropriate behavioral responses as adults would;

  4. Requiring that searches be trauma-informed, to prevent escalation of the situation and improve community trust;

  5. Requiring that training on the policies be given in-person by a lawyer with subject matter expertise, given the policies’ importance and complex nature; and

  6. Ending the use of militaristic language, including by substituting “shift” for “tour of duty.”

Sincerely,

Lynn Tramonte

Director

Ohio Immigrant Alliance