CH City Council must demand access to police policy materials
At the July 20 Cleveland Heights City Council meeting, there was a discussion between City Manager Tanisha Briley and Council Member Kahlil Seren that should worry any Cleveland Heights citizen who thinks that our elected officials need to be, at minimum, privy to all decisions about governmental policy in our city.
After Police Chief Annette Mecklenburg’s report to council, Seren referenced ongoing work with the firm Lexipol, for the purpose of crafting our police department’s policies. Seren asked whether, as the policymaking authority for the city, council would be able to see the materials that Lexipol is providing to our police department. He then made a request that council have access to those materials.
I thought this seemed perfectly reasonable. City council members are, after all (for the time being), our only directly elected and accountable government officials, and they are indeed ultimately responsible for overseeing policy for all city matters.
Furthermore, protests are still happening across our nation. Organizations right here in Cleveland Heights, such as Safer Heights, are demanding greater accountability from our police forces, and demanding that we give community representatives a seat at the table when deciding how we define and create public safety. To shut down transparency and community dialogue now would invite suspicion and unrest. Surely, we can all agree that we don’t want that.
Yet the city manager said giving city council members the opportunity to review the materials Lexipol is providing to our police department, so as to guide us in shaping our policies, would be inappropriate. She said that it is not under city council’s authority to have a say in how these policies are shaped.
I—and many others—disagree.
Being able to review materials that may impact the public safety of our city is not reserved for the administration alone. But more than that, now is not the time to prohibit our directly elected officials from ensuring that our police department's policies reflect our city’s goals, values, and community needs.
Please call on our city council members to stand united in demanding access to see all materials being used to shape our police department’s policies. We elected our city council members to be our leaders, to be responsible, and to put our community’s interests over political turf wars.
Josie Moore is a proud Cleveland Heights resident, mother, wife, and small-business owner.