Cleveland Consent Decree - session 10 - youth and policing

Questions for all panelists:

  • What’s the main source of the problem between the youth and police? Is it a lack of training? Is it a few “bad apples”? If you could only do one thing to improve the situation, what would you do?
    • Response from Gabriella Celeste: Effective implementation of all of the new and revised CDP policies as part of the consent decree, including the Interactions with Youth GPO, would be my priority if I could only do 1 thing because policy make expectations clear, provides specific guidance and ensures police accountability.
  • Which policies are hardest to implement regarding reducing police violence with our youth and why?
    • Response from Gabriella Celeste: I can’t speak to implementation from the CDP perspective, but I imagine any time tensions are high and there is limited information about a particular situation, especially if there are guns involved, that those would be especially challenging.
  • How can you get rid of bad officers as the CPPA supports officers no matter how heinous the offense while dragging victims names through the mud?
    • Response from Gabriella Celeste: I can’t speak to this but agree that it is real challenge.
  • Racism/white supremacy is tarnishing how black and white people see each other. How can we police communities with justice if we never address or gloss over this issue?
    • Response from Gabriella Celeste: Agreed. The new bias-free policing policy and anti-bias training I hope will make some progress in this regard, but this is a broader social problem that is reflected in our community and will require community change in all levels of engagement and community-building.
  • How can we increase community information, dissemination, and awareness of the various community programs and crisis lines that are available?
    • Response from Gabriella Celeste: Better city websites with copies of all CDP policies, regularly updated, and critical numbers. These resources should also be regularly shared on social media and with CDCs and other neighborhood groups.
  • Why didn’t the Cleveland Division of Police, Department of Justice work with the City of Cleveland Mental Health Response Advisory Committee, also known as MHRAC, when it created its new youth policy? The policy makes numerous references to crisis intervention & mental health crisis. MHRAC was created as a consent decree mandate to make recommendations regarding crisis intervention.
    • Response from Gabriella Celeste: MHRAC is a valuable partner for crisis intervention (CIT) policy, training and program development. While the youth policy was not under the authority of the MHRAC per se, several members of the MHRAC, including Frontline, NAMI, a representative of the ADMHAS Board children’s program and the CWRU Schubert Center for Child Studies, were among those involved in the drafting and development of the Interactions with Youth policy. As such, to better ensure alignment, the youth policy explicitly referenced the CIT policy where it involved crisis interactions with youth.
  • Given the fact that the Juvenile Detention Center is so understaffed that youth are being held in 23-hour lockdown for days on end without phone calls and forced to use bags instead of the restroom, do you feel it is reasonable to reevaluate throwing youth into these situations as their brains are still developing, and what alternatives can we imagine?
    • Response from Gabriella Celeste: Yes, research and common sense tell us that once a child becomes involved in the juvenile justice system, they are more likely to go deeper into the justice system, so diverting youth as much as possible from our juvenile detention center and court system makes sense. We also know from the Pathways to Desistance research that most youth, even serious offenders, mature out of anti-social and criminal behavior so efforts to intervene effectively to help youth get on the right track pays off in the short and long run.
  • How do you deal with non-verbal communicators (all ages)? Many people are murdered or hurt because officers think that they are not cooperating. How do you train your officers or how can you change the way you treat non-verbal communicators?
    • Response from Gabriella Celeste: I have seen some helpful guidance from autism resources, like “Autism Speaks,” but these of course do not speak to all kinds for non-verbal communications