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Cleveland looks to firms to help fund police reform

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The U.S. Department of Justice started investigating the Cleveland Police Department in 2013, concluding in a report last December that the department used unreasonable and sometimes unnecessary force.

Cleveland has reached an agreement with the DOJ that avoids a long, expensive court fight. But, “Everything has to be paid for,” says Steven Dettelbach, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.  

By everything, he means requirements in the agreement for things like training officers to deal better with minorities and people who are mentally ill and equipment, like computers in patrol cars.

“Officers in their cars should connect up with all the data that we collect on people that they’re arresting and the dangers that they’re facing every day,” Dettelbach says.

Mayor Frank Jackson says the cost will be in the millions, and he’ll be looking for what he calls “external help.”

That help could come from people like Michael Stanek, owner of Cleveland Cycle Tours and chief financial officer of Hunt Imaging, which makes toner. 

“If there were some training programs they were looking to implement, I think it would be very appropriate for me as a small businessman to help out,” Stanek says.

How much help would he give?

“A thousand maybe,” Stanek says, but he says the money would have to be earmarked for a specific program— he won’t write a blank check.

Cleveland’s business community has dipped into its pockets before. It helped fund an education reform program a few years ago.

“The community realizes this is going to need to be a public-private partnership,” says Joe Roman, president and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, the city’s chamber of commerce. “And I think everybody is all in, trying to figure out what the right role is that they can play.”

And how much it’ll cost.

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