How can you complain about problems with Cleveland police?
Complaints against Cleveland police can be made with the Office of Professional Standards (OPS). OPS is an independent agency within the City of Cleveland and is not part of the Cleveland Division of Police. OPS is responsible for receiving, investigating and hearing complaints against police.
How do you file a complaint with OPS?
- Complete and Submit the complaint form online.
- Download the complaint form (PDF), complete it, and send it to OPS through: a) email at CLEPoliceComplaints@city.cleveland.oh.us, b) fax at (216) 420-8764, or c) US mail at 205 West St. Clair Ave., Suite 301, Cleveland, Ohio 44113
- By Phone at (216) 664-2944 (an OPS investigator will assist you in filling a complaint by phone)
- In-Person at the Office of Professional Standards, 205 W. St. Clair Ave., Suite 301, Cleveland, OH 44113
- You can also find complaint forms to complete at the Cleveland Division of Police Headquarters, all five Cleveland Division of Police District Stations, as well as The Mayor’s Action Center at Cleveland City Hall (601 Lakeside Ave, Cleveland, OH 44114).
Be sure to call ahead before going to any office in person during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information about the complaint process, or to check the status of a complaint, click here.
What happens after you file a complaint with OPS?
- Your case will be assigned to an investigator and given a tracking number. You can check the status of the complaint by phone or online using the tracking number.
- First, the investigator will try to figure out if there was criminal conduct by the police officer. If so, the case will be referred to Cleveland Division of Police, Internal Affairs. OPS does not investigate potential criminal activity. See below for more information on the type of conduct OPS investigates.
- Next, the OPS investigator will talk with you and any witnesses. Reports from the police officer(s) involved will be reviewed. The officer(s) involved must provide information to OPS.
- OPS may also gather physical evidence such as fingerprints, handprints, or footprints. Or forensic evidence like bruises or bite marks. OPS will also gather any available documentary evidence such as 911 calls, crime scene materials, dispatch reports, or video and audio recording related to the complaint.
- Last, when the investigation is complete, the report will be reviewed by the OPS Administrator and then sent to the Civilian Police Review Board (CPRB).
Is there a hearing where you can tell what happened?
- CRPB will review the investigation and decide if the police violated a policy, training, rule or regulation. This process occurs at a public hearing. Hearings occur once a month.
- The person who filed the complaint will be notified in advance of when the CRPB will hear their complaint.
- If CPRB finds that a violation occurred, it will sustain the complaint and recommend appropriate discipline to either the Chief of Police or the Director of Public Safety
- The CPRB may find no violation occurred for a variety of reasons: the alleged conduct occurred but it was consistent with laws, trainings, or procedures; the evidence does not support the complaint; or there is insufficient evidence to support the complaint.
Who decides if a police officer will be disciplined and what discipline to impose?
- When the CPRB sustains a complaint and recommends discipline, a pre-disciplinary hearing is conducted. OPS presents its investigation to either the Chief of Police or the Director of Public Safety, or his designated hearing officer. The Officer(s) involved, along with his/her union representative(s), has the opportunity to respond to the complaint against him/her.
- The Chief of Police or the Director of Public Safety make the final decision whether or not to impose discipline against the Officer(s) who was the subject of the complaint. OPS does not have the authority to recommend or implement discipline to CDP officers..
What type of conduct will OPS investigate?
OPS has jurisdiction over the following types of complaints:
- Harassment complaints including bias policing, discrimination, and profiling
- Use of excessive force
- Unprofessional behavior/conduct
- Improper procedure complaints including improper arrest, citation, search, stop or tow
- Service complaints including insufficient CDP service or no CDP service
- Property complaints including missing property or damage to property
- Misconduct related to the receipt of a Uniform Traffic Ticket or Parking Infraction issued by CDP.
Can I file a complaint if I don’t live in Cleveland?
Yes, if you’ve had an interaction with a CDP officer you can file a complaint even if you are not a resident of Cleveland.
Do I need the officer’s name and/or badge number to file a complaint?
No, anyone can file a complaint against an unidentified officer. Most of the time OPS investigators can identify the officer(s) using police records and documents.
Can OPS help citizens get financial compensation?
No. Unfortunately OPS cannot assist or seek and form of financial compensation for citizens.
Where can I learn more about OPS?
For more information, visit: http://www.city.cleveland.oh.us/CityofCleveland/Home/Government/CityAgencies/OPS