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Finalists for Cleveland police monitor have extensive law enforcement backgrounds

photo of entrance to Cleveland police headquarters
Ryan Loew
Ideastream Public Media
The Cleveland Division of Police has been under a federal consent decree since 2015. Mayor Justin Bibb has expressed a desire to exit the agreement.

The two finalists selected by the city of Cleveland and Justice Department to become the new Cleveland police monitor have extensive experience working in law enforcement.

According to the city’s law director, Mark Griffin, the team from Hogan Lovells would be led by former Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine.

Racine joined the D.C.-based international law firm as a partner in January. He served as the first independent attorney general in Washington from 2015 until 2023.

The team from the consulting firm JS Held would be led by former Dallas Chief of Police Renee Hall.

Hall resigned in 2020, following protests over police brutality and the death of George Floyd. In her resignation letter, Hall cited unnamed career opportunities but had also come under scrutiny for the way police in Dallas responded to protests.

Cleveland will hold the first of three public meetings Tuesday with the finalists. Seven groups had initially applied for the position.

The interim monitor, Case Western Reserve University law professor Ayesha Bell Hardaway, did not apply for the job, said Griffin. Hardaway has worked on the consent decree since its creation in 2015. It’s unclear what will happen to other local members of the monitoring team like Charles See and Ronnie Dunn because the new monitor chooses their own staff.

“One need will be local knowledge,” said Griffin. “So we expect that certainly some will be kept on.”

The websites for Logan Hovells and JS Held don’t show any expertise in consent decrees or police reform. According to Griffin, Logan Hovells’ team would include a member of the monitoring team in Ferguson, Missouri.

Griffin said city is focused on completing the consent decree soon.

“We’re looking for a track record of helping cities comply and satisfy consent decrees,” Griffin said.

Following the three public meetings, the city and Justice Department will send their final choice to the federal judge overseeing the content decree, Solomon Oliver.

Cleveland is eight years into the consent decree, in what’s known as the assessment phase. The monitoring team is reviewing the department for its adherence to the hundreds of new policies put in place since 2015.

Once the city gets past this stage of the process, they’ll enter the sustainability phase, where they have to show they can follow the consent decree’s reforms without close oversight by the court and Department of Justice.

Matthew Richmond is a reporter/producer focused on criminal justice issues at Ideastream Public Media.