Thursday, August 20, 2015

Cleveland Council approves proposal for Charter Amendment aimed at increasing diversity of workforce, changes required by DOJ agreement

Cleveland City Council passed on Wednesday an ordinance that proposes changes to the City's hiring practices. Ordinance Number 842-15 passed as an emergency ordinance -

"Authorizing the submission to the electors of the City of Cleveland of a proposal to amend Sections 131 and 133 of the Charter of the City of Cleveland relating to civil service appointments and promotions wherever practicable."

A copy of the ordinance is provided below.

In discussion in a Committee of the Whole council President Kelley offered an amendment that was passed that limited the proposed changes to the hiring of new employees and not that of promotions.

The initial Ordinance would of required the certification of ten of the top ranked applicants for both hiring and promotions.  The Charter currently requires that the top three applicants for both hires and promotions be certified and used for selection of awards.  If accepted by Cleveland voters, the new Charter amendment would increase the number of top candidates for hire from three to ten but would retain the top number of candidates for promotions at three.

Several Council members (Cummins, Polensek & J. Johnson) questioned the need for the amendment that would maintain the rule of three for promotions  Council members Polensek and Cummins voted no on the amendment that then passed.  In the vote in Chambers later in the afternoon, the measure passed 16 to 1 with Cummins casting the Nay vote.

Between the Committee of the Whole and the council meeting in Chambers, Councilman Cummins shared with colleagues an alternative for selecting top ranked candidates for hiring or promotion, by using a category rating instead of a purely numerical ranking of individuals.  Category ratings are used by federal agencies and qualify candidates in categories such as:
  • Superior = 98 - 100
  • Best Qualified =  90 - 97
  • Well Qualified - 85 - 89
  • Qualified = 70 – 84
In Committee Cummins argued that if the City truly wants to be more inclusive and ensure greater diversity that the rule of three should be replaced for both hiring and promotions and that a category rating system would be useful in certifying the most qualified list of candidates from which a hiring officer could make a decision for an award.

Although it was argued by some Council members that by increasing the pool of qualified candidates to select from in the initial hiring would have an affect on increasing diversity, Cummins pointed out that it would take on average 7 to 12 years before the City could anticipate seeing more diversity in higher ranking supervisory positions and in effect the ordinance that passed will likely maintain the status quo for at least that period of time if accepted by voters.

Diversity numbers for Cleveland's Division of Police, as reported by ideastream®

The changes are driven by a requirement within the City of Cleveland and Department of Justice Consent Decree Agreement that states (pages 70):
  • (300) "To maintain high-level, quality service, ensure officer safety and accountability, and promote constitutional, effective policing, CDP will review and revise as necessary its recruitment and hiring program to ensure that CDP successfully attracts and hires diverse group of qualified individuals.  [ands]
  • (301) The Mayor will work with the City Council to develop an ordinance to place a Charter Amendment on the ballot that would give the appointing authority greater flexibility in the selection of candidates from the certified eligibility list for the CDP."

In addition to the specific language in the Consent decree regarding providing greater flexibility for hiring, the agreement also sets forth criteria that will need to be used in annual performance evaluations for police (pages 72-73):

The annual performance evaluation will be augmented to
include an assessment of:
  1. community engagement and communication with the public as appropriate to assignment;
  2. use of communi ty and problem-oriented policing and problem-solving strategies as appropriate to assignment;
  3. de-escalation strategies;
  4. techniques for dealing with individuals in crisis;
  5. civilian commendations and complaints;
  6. disciplinary actions;
  7. compliance with policy;
  8. safety (e.g., officer safety standards and vehicle operations);
  9. training;
  10. report writing; and
  11. decision-making skills.

And, for promotions -

In determining whether the officer is likely to be effective and appropriate for the
position to which he or she is being considered for promotion, the appointing authority
will consider the following factors, where relevant:
  1. effective use of community and problem-oriented policing strategics;
  2. the number and circumstances of uses of force;
  3. an officer's service as an FTO or Field Training Sergeant;
  4. disciplinary record;
  5. problem-solving skill s;
  6. interpersonal skills;
  7. support for departmental integrity measures; and
  8. pending disciplinary process.