An Open Letter to the Cleveland Division of Police, the Department of Justice, and Governor Mike DeWine on the Killing of Reginald Williams Jr.
To: Cleveland Division of Police, Department of Justice Northern Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine’s Office
I am a reporter with Raise the Voices, an advocacy journalism organization. I am writing to discuss the case of Reginald Williams Jr. On October 4, 2013, Reginald Williams Jr. was arrested on potential kidnapping charges. Witnesses say that during the arrest, officers of the Cleveland Division of Police used excessive force, tasering Williams multiple times after he was already apprehended. The officers are reported to have said ‘“Look at this stupid motherf*cker he’s about to die”’ after ‘tasing him and tasing him until the taser quit working.’ Williams died the next morning.
I noticed that since the incident involving Reginald Williams Jr., many reforms have been instituted, as per the agreement between the Department of Justice and the Cleveland Division of Police in 2015. However, four people were still killed after 2017, the year reforms were first put into effect. In the two years prior to the implementation of the new Use of Force policy and the Bias-Free Policing Principles, no people were killed. Why did the number of citizens killed by police increase directly after the institution of concrete reforms? Is the decrease in police brutality a product of the new policies implemented, or is it the result of public pressure?
The Community Police Commission seems to be an effective way to encourage continual public pressure on police officers, depending on how it is implemented into the policing system. How does the CDP use feedback from the CPC to improve its policing practices? Along the same thread, how has the city of Cleveland “[improved] officer training by ensuring that it reflects the needs of officers and that it is effective” and “[improved] equipment and resources available to officers,” and how has it improved recruiting policies, as was agreed to in the 2015 agreement between the CDP and the Justice Department?
Finally, I would like to address the budget for police training in the state of Ohio. Governor DeWine, can you please speak to the statements made in a Cleveland.com article that “The state budgeted nothing to pay back departments for annual training in fiscal year 2019. Nothing for 2020. And nothing for 2021,” and that because of this, critical training was technically “…still voluntary”?
This letter will be posted publicly as part of our advocacy journalism, along with any response from your office.
Reporter, Raise the Voices