New CH mayor should have say in police contract

To the Editor:

The union representing Cleveland Heights police officers is currently negotiating their contract, which expires on March 31. The negotiations are handled by the city manager and outside counsel the manager hires to represent the city. Though the current contract term is three years, members of Safer Heights urge the city to negotiate a one-year agreement.

The new mayor [to be elected on Nov. 2], as the new director of public safety, will have direct responsibility over police operations, but this may be limited if contract provisions are locked in for another three years. With the results of both the council-commissioned study on racial disparities in 2019 traffic stops and the report of the Racial Justice Task Force still pending, we believe there may be more desire for citizen oversight in officer discipline, which is currently governed by the union contract.

Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects, and its revenue implications for the city, are far from certain. Tying the city to a three-year contract could divert city resources from future recovery efforts and small-business-assistance programs. After the long-term implications of COVID-19 are better understood, renegotiating the contract in 2022 under the direction of a new mayor makes the most sense for our city. Safer Heights urges residents to contact CH City Council members and our city manager if they agree.

Rosa Kovacevich

Rosa Kovacevich, Safer Heights member
Cleveland Heights

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 10:26 AM, 02.26.2021