While it is understandable that both Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb and Police Chief Wayne Drummond are frustrated with their inability to discipline an officer over antisemetic social media posts made before the officer was hired, the decision seems to have been the right one, given the timing of the city implementing its own policies on social media background checks.
Still, the opportunity should be taken to improve the way the department (and all law enforcement agencies) identify and address officers’ biases before they are hired — and while they are doing their jobs.
In Cleveland, new training policies will include behavior-based interviews, social media monitoring, implicit and explicit bias training and mandatory cultural competency training across all public safety divisions. The city said it also plans to partner with the Anti-Defamation League.
All public safety employees are required to complete the training by the end of 2023.
Members of the public have a right to know an officer’s decision-making will not be affected by bigotry; Or at least that law enforcement agencies have done their very best to vet and train officers.
In the case of the officer in question, he will receive nothing more than a note in his personnel file. That seems to be the right thing to do, given how much time has passed since the offending posts; and the amount of training that awaits the officer. But it should serve as a reminder not just to that officer but to all of us — not only that we might be judged based on long-forgotten social media posts from years ago, but that we are not free of the consequences of those words.
Fortunately, the consequences of this particular post seem to be improved training and procedures for one Ohio police department.