An optimistic citizen committee appointed to track improvements in the way Cleveland handles sex crimes and missing person cases says the city has made progress on more than half of the promises it made four months ago, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Members also acknowledged that implementing lasting and systematic change that translates to the whole department and the wider community will take time.
Determining how bureaucratic shifts trickle down within the more than 1,500-member department and eventually are felt by victims and their families is something the committee is still grappling with. “It’s a culture change,” said Megan O’Bryan, committee member and president of the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center. “The commitment for change is certainly there at the top.” Citizens questioned police sensitivity and attitude toward missing persons and sexual assault cases — especially in cases that involved drug-addicted and minority women as were the victims of accused serial killer Anthony Sowell. Yvonne Pointer Tripplett, committee member who works for the city’s Community Relations Board said of police leaders, “They’ve acknowledged that maybe they didn’t get it all right but they are willing to change.”