Why I Voted No on Clinic Police in Lakewood

During a March 19th, 2018 meeting, Lakewood City Council considered a memorandum regarding Cleveland Clinic Police in Lakewood. It passed 5-2 with Councilmember O’Leary and myself voting no. This decision allows Cleveland Clinic Police to continue to function as full-fledged police officers within Lakewood city limits. Basically, they can arrest people in Lakewood.

First, let me make clear, I am very much for facilities like the new Cleveland Clinic building providing their own security, especially in light of the carjackings and robberies that have many people rightfully concerned. But there is a difference between private security and the police. A distinction which I feel is important to maintain.

A week earlier, I contacted the Cleveland Clinic Police Department (CCPD) to ask four questions:

  1. Is the Cleveland Clinic Police Department unionized on any level?
  2. May I have a copy of the CCPD use of force policy?
  3. May I have a copy of the CCPD disciplinary policy?
  4. How does the CCPD compensation compare to Lakewood Police Department (LPD)?

After about a week, I was handed over to a Cleveland Clinic administrator who did a good job answering my questions.

Not surprisingly, CCPD is not unionized at all. That alone is enough reason for concern. CCPD pay seemed to be on par with LPD, with part-time making $25 an hour and the full-time pay scale at $16-$32. I’ll post the use of force and the Clinic corrective action policy below, for you to look at.

Ultimately, I know that I can ask the Lakewood Police Department for anything and they will respond to me, a local elected official, and would be just as responsive to a public request. It is their duty to respond and they do it well in my limited experience, a few months on the job. LPD is a public entity, ultimately accountable to the people of Lakewood. In contrast, it is not the duty of a private police force working for a private company to respond to me or the public. The memorandum outlines what powers are being given to CCPD, and what oversight Lakewood Police and our police chief have, respectively; however, this does not make the CCPD accountable to the citizens of Lakewood as directly as our public police force.

I remain very supportive of having ample security at these facilities. A private security presence is often a great thing to deter crime, and needed in some areas, especially now! Even if this had not passed, the Cleveland Clinic could very easily still provide a security force just like any other private company hires security; they just wouldn’t be the police. That said, this agreement between the Clinic and Lakewood, which is not new, will continue to be in effect for the foreseeable future.

Tristan Rader
Member of Council, At-Large

Documents courtesy of the Cleveland Clinic Police Department:

CC Corrective Action Policy
Use of Force Policy
Council Meeting Agenda, Including MOU with Clinic

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