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Three finalists emerge to head Cleveland’s beleaguered Office of Professional Standards

March 21, 2018 GMT

Three finalists emerge to head Cleveland’s beleaguered Office of Professional Standards

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The city of Cleveland has narrowed down its search for a new administrator for the Office of Professional Standards down to three people.

Whoever gets the job will be tasked with steering the beleaguered office, which investigates civilian complaints against Cleveland police officers, as it seeks to come into compliance with a federal consent decree to change the way the city conducts police work.

The candidates include:

- Jack Hall, a former police officer and supervisor who worked stints at Avon Lake Sheffield and the Metroparks police departments.

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- Craig Morgan, deputy chief prosecutor for the city of Akron.

- Roger Smith, former executive agency counsel for the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board.

The candidates appeared at a forum held by the Cleveland Community Police Commission on Tuesday at Neighborhood Leadership Institute on Broadway Avenue. Residents and members of the Civilian Police Review Board, which looks at the OPS investigations and determines whether an officer should be disciplined, asked questions of the candidates.

The city is searching for a new OPS administrator after former director Damon Scott left the office in October. His departure came after a series of problems highlighted by the consent decree monitor about the status of investigations, the most severe being a backlog of unfinished cases that stretched back several years.

As of January, there were about 380 open investigations that go back to 2015.

The Justice Department highlighted OPS’ problems in a 2014 report on unconstitutional policing in the city, noting that it was part of a larger problem of officers not being held accountable for wrongdoing. Head monitor Matthew Barge has said OPS has not improved since the city entered the consent decree in 2015.

The city has struggled in its responses to address the backlog, though it has hired an outside agency to examine the caseload. It is expected to next hire an agency to complete the unfinished cases so the OPS’ full-time investigators can concentrate on new complaints.

During Tuesday’s forum, all three candidates talked about the need to address the backlog and to make sure the public has confidence in the investigative process.

If you would like to comment on this story, please visit Wednesday’s crime and courts comments section.

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