On Wednesday, April 12, 2017, the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood and Jan Thrope, community activist and founder of Inner Visions Cleveland, hosted a “reverse ride along” for new Cleveland Police recruits. The program is a re-imagining of the traditional police ride along as it reverses roles and enables the community to set the tone and tour stops highlighting people, places and resources they would like to introduce to Cleveland’s newest police officers. Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood and Thrope have conducted two previous ride along community tours with Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority police, which focused mainly on building police relationships and knowledge of the Central Neighborhood.
Knowing the city of Cleveland Police Department was actively working on programs to rebuild and establish relationships in the community, the Promise Neighborhood and Thrope approached the department with the idea of taking the “reverse ride along” program city-wide.
“I was able to see the officers in a different light and I sincerely believe that we all have the same goals. Therefore, I take satisfaction in helping mold the future of the force by exposing them to the amazing assets of our community,” said Joe Black, engagement manager, Promise Neighborhood. “We didn’t just provide a tour to recruits who are foreign to the city, we provided a tour to senior officers who had been promoted and have found themselves stuck in a building. As a result, although these officers had 10 plus years of experience, they too learned about the community. In fact, I would argue that the tour was as important to the senior officers as it was to the recruits.”
The event was featured in The Plain Dealer and on Cleveland.com:
Cleveland Police recruits on ‘reverse ride-along’ meet the people they’ll serve and protect
CLEVELAND, Ohio — On Wednesday, the 49 police recruits set to graduate this week from Cleveland’s 136th police academy went on a “reverse ride-along” program designed to take them into the heart of city’s neighborhoods to meet the people they will soon serve.
Much is expected of the recruits who will put on their uniforms, pin on their badges and strap on their holsters at a time when police and community relations are at a crossroads.
The men and women – most of them in their 20s – will be deployed to the city’s streets as the face of a department that the U.S. Department of Justice just a few years ago almost sued for using excessive force against citizens, violating constitutional rights, and being unable to adequately police its own.
Now, with a consent decree in place, the department is working to build community trust as it also works to change the policies and practices that lead to the federal government involvement.
All these recruits know, though, is the future.
Cleveland police Sgt. Shawn Smith, who leads the training academy, has been working for a few years with officer George Kwan to find new ways to introduce recruits to residents.
Meanwhile, Jan Thrope, a community activist and founder of Inner Visions of Cleveland, wanted to start a “reverse ride-along” program for the Cleveland recruits similar to one she and Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood engagement managers helped the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority create last year.
The timing was perfect.
When the city moved the bulk of its recruit training to the Ohio State Highway Patrol Training Academy in Columbus last year, it became even more vital to make it happen, Smith said.
“Most of this class isn’t from the city,” Smith said. “They mainly know it from attending sporting events or going downtown.”
Seventy-seven percent of the class is from outside the city of Cleveland, mainly from the suburbs, although some are from as far away as Jamaica or Colombia.
For many of the 49 recruits, the 9-hour excursion provided a first glimpse at Hough, Collinwood, Clark-Fulton, Ohio City and Central – neighborhoods they will soon patrol.
For residents in those same places it was a chance to show the recruits that the people who live there are worth protecting.
Read the full story here.