A group of black ministers in Cleveland, many of whom worked with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., converged on Cleveland City Hall yesterday to complain about police promotion practices, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. About 30 ministers arrived unannounced demanding to talk with Public Safety Director James Draper about what they believe are discriminatory practices in the Police Department. They hoped Draper would sit down and hear their concerns.
The ministers got what they wanted and more. Mayor Jane Campbell cleared her schedule to speak with them. The private meeting lasted more than two hours. Pastors from the Baptist Ministers Conference of Cleveland and Vicinity asked Campbell and Draper why no black officers head the homicide or narcotics units, which are coveted assignments.
The meeting followed complaints from Cleveland police Lt. Robert Miller, who recently formed the African American Police Supervisors Association to bring attention to the low number of black officers in charge of certain police units.
Draper said that in two to three years, the talent pool of minority applicants will be greater than it is now.
“We had a very excellent meeting,” said the Rev. Herbert Hardy, associate pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church, who led a 1959 march on City Hall to protest police hiring. “We come out of here in full agreement that the issues we had will be taken care of in a very orderly manner.”
Leaders of the Black Shield Association, a group representing about 400 minority Cleveland police officers, said they have been addressing promotional practices for years and staffing has gotten better.