Youth and Policing in Cleveland
A Toolkit for Community & Neighborhood Action
Why this Toolkit?
For several years following the police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, a number of Cleveland community partners, in collaboration with the Schubert Center and Strategies for Youth, worked to bring attention to the importance of having officers recognize and protect the youthfulness of the children and teens they encounter. This requires the Cleveland Division of Police (CDP) to develop policies, training, and ongoing support to ensure understanding of age-appropriate expectations by officers during their interactions with young people.
In 2021, the CDP adopted a first-of-its-kind Interactions with Youth Policy that recognizes how children and teenagers are developmentally less mature than adults and require age-appropriate and trauma-informed protection and care.
Community partners - neighborhood groups, organizations, educators, artists, activists, public institutions, and other providers serving children and teens - also play a role as protectors and supporters of youth.
This 5-minute video and Toolkit are designed to spark dialogue, understanding, and action among adults working with children and teens in the community - in organizations supporting youth, recreation centers, schools, and other settings. They help raise awareness about the changes in our Cleveland community and provide background information about the new CDP Interactions with Youth Policy. They also offer discussion questions, strategies, and actions for the community groups who serve as valued partners in supporting our kids and helping to deter criminal justice system involvement.
What's behind this project?
Since the shooting of Tamir Rice in 2014, Gabriella Celeste and the Schubert Center have pushed for new policies to protect the youth in Cleveland and across the country. Find out why in an interview with Celeste published in the Spring/Summer 2022 art/sci magazine issue.
Important Actions Your Organization Can Take NOW!
1. WATCH THE VIDEO AND HAVE A CONVERSATION.
- Watch the 5-minute video with your colleagues and see the “Discussion Guide” for ideas to help facilitate a conversation about how this policy impacts the kids you serve.
- Convene a multi-generational dialogue with your staff and the youth you work with to discuss their experiences and ideas for effective communication, de-escalation techniques, and community support.
- Invite the CDP district commander or other police representatives active in your area to a video screening with your team. During the dialogue, ask them to share how they are putting the policy into action and how your organization can be a partner to support youth who police encounter.
2. RAISE AWARENESS OF THE NEW YOUTH POLICY.
- Create a social media campaign with photos of youth, messages from and a link to the video, and a hashtag (like #BetterPolicing4Kids). Invite partners to share pictures of their events and forums using the hashtag – who can get the most likes and retweets?
- Share the video and what you’ve learned on your website and social media, tagging relevant groups like the CDP (@CLEpolice), city council members (@CleCityCouncil), the Mayor (@CityofCleveland), the Schubert Center (@SchubertCenter), and/or other neighborhood organizations.
- Explore ways to share these resources with the adults in your community. Ask youth to re-watch the video at home with their families and discuss their responses.
3. EXPLORE OTHER WAYS TO INCREASE IMPACT
- Host or participate in a youth-led training on the new policy and strategies for responding to youth in crisis.
- Share information with other community organizations, local and elsewhere, to garner support for policies like these.
- Provide feedback on what you’ve learned and ideas for further action by completing the short 3-question survey issued by the Schubert Center. Then, join the email list for announcements about future opportunities.
The resources linked below will equip you and your colleagues to understand what the Interactions with Youth Policy and other reforms mean for the community partners dedicated to our children and young people.
- Discussion Guide: For adults working with youth
- Policy Overview: The purpose and potential of the Interactions with Youth policy
- Cleveland Division of Police Interactions with Youth policy
- Overview of all the CDP policies with a youth-specific focus
- Citizen's Guide to the Consent Decree, with a Special Focus on Implications for Youth and Young People
- Strategies for Youth: Connecting Cops & Kids
For more information, visit the Youth and Policing information page on our website.
Special Thanks: Boys and Girls Club of Northeast Ohio, Open Doors Academy, Cleveland Public Library, CWRU Provost Scholars Program, Madvocator Educational and Healthcare Advocacy Training, NAACP, Positive Education Program, and Youth Opportunities Unlimited