- Associated Press - Monday, January 16, 2017

CLEVELAND (AP) - Cleveland police are still dealing with a backlog of several hundred unresolved citizen complaints against officers as the department prepares to start training on a new policy about how officers use force.

The Office of Professional Standards has a backlog of 439 cases dating to 2014, Cleveland.com (http://bit.ly/2ilLxAy ) reported.

The independent monitor overseeing an agreement to reform the police department discussed the issue with City Council members last week.

“The organization just simply isn’t working,” monitor Matthew Barge told members of the council’s Safety Committee. “If 80 percent of the complaints that walked through the door in 2016 have not yet been resolved, that is not an acceptable state of affairs.”

He said investigators in the standards office have operated without a manual or codified procedures for years, and a draft of such guidance is now pending consideration by a judge.

Barge and his team were hired by the city in 2015 and are responsible for helping it implement all the requirements of the consent decree that it reached with the U.S. Department of Justice to reform the police department.

The court recently approved the department’s new policy on when officers can and can’t use force.

The policy calls for the use of force to be proportional to the threat a suspect poses, said Timothy Longo, who serves as the monitoring team’s director of implementation. Longo said the policy requires that officers take appropriate steps to de-escalate a situation before force becomes necessary.

Barge said officers will be trained on the new policy and plan to put it into action within six months.

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Information from: cleveland.com, http://www.cleveland.com

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