Cleveland police officials are set to change several policies that will govern the handling of mass protests.
The city agreed to make wide-ranging changes to the way police handle mass protests as part of a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice that stems from the agency’s response to George Floyd protests in May 2020, Cleveland.com reports.
The proposed policy changes cover reporting of force, requires the chief or a designee to authorize use of force against a large group, and prohibits using force against anyone who is exercising First Amendment rights to free speech. The agency must also establish policies on how to handle “civil disobedience” and “civil disturbances,” on dispersal orders, and on training of officers on how to use less-lethal munitions.
The monitoring team also submitted for approval a new policy that prohibits officers from “improperly interfering” with citizens who record police. Officers under the policy would be specifically banned from “threatening, intimidating, using force against, stopping, detaining or citing” residents solely for recording or taking pictures of officers.
If someone is interfering with police while recording, such as blocking traffic or instructing a witness how to answer questions, officers must first warn the person, give him or her an explanation of how this affects law enforcement and get a supervisor’s approval before making any arrests.