Mayor Bibb announces nominees for the new Community Police Commission
Wednesday, October 26, 2022 – Cleveland – Mayor Justin M. Bibb is moving forward with historic police reform measures with the nomination of 10 members of the strengthened new Community Police Commission.
After Cleveland voters decisively supported Issue 24 in the November election last year, the Bibb administration has upheld this mandate for change within Cleveland’s police department.
The new commission is one of the strongest citizen oversight boards in the country and has the authority to make final decisions on recruitment, training and disciplinary decisions.
“Today marks a new beginning for policing in Cleveland. It heeds the lessons of our 100-year history of attempts to reform the police and builds on the consent decree to finally create a people-powered oversight mechanism for real and lasting change,” Mayor Bibb said.
The nominees fulfill specific requirements put in place by Issue 24 in City Charter Section 115 and were carefully selected as the result of an extensive public engagement process, unprecedented for appointments to any Cleveland boards or commissions by any mayor.
Mayor Bibb’s ten nominees are:
James M. Chura, 4-year term
Charles Donaldson Jr., 4-year term
Pastor Kyle Earley, 2-year term
Alana Garrett-Ferguson, 4-year term
Cait Kennedy, 2-year term
Gregory Reaves, 2-year term
Jan Ridgeway, 4-year term
Piet van Lier, 4-year term
Teri Wang, 2-year term
Sharena Zayed, 2-year term
Cleveland City Council’s three nominees are:
Dr. John Adams, 4-year term
Shandra Benito, 2-year term
Audrianna Rodriguez, 4-year term
All nominees were randomly allocated two and four-year terms to preserve fairness and the integrity of the selection process. Each nominee is subject to approval by Cleveland City Council.
The nominees selected represent a broad spectrum of life experience and subject-matter expertise in policing, criminal justice, homelessness, human resources and community affairs and together, create a balanced oversight body that reflects the racial, social and cultural diversity of our city, as prescribed in Charter Section 115-5.
Section 115-5 Implementation Timeline
Immediately after taking office in January 2022, Mayor Bibb assembled a team dedicated to implementing the reforms in Issue 24 – a measure passed by Cleveland voters 59% to 41% in November 2021.
The first step required amending Cleveland’s police consent decree. In March 2022, the City of Cleveland and the U.S. Department of Justice submitted a Joint Amendment to the consent decree to permit the creation of the new Community Police Commission, which was approved by U.S. District Court Judge Oliver on March 18, 2022.
Once the administration received authority to establish the new CPC, applications opened on April 4, 2022. Nearly 300 candidates applied, representing the highest number of applications the City has received for the CPC since its initial inception in 2015.
Applications were vetted for residency, which resulted in a total pool of 224 eligible applications for review and evaluation as part of a rigorous, two-phase selection process involving a 25-member Resident Review Committee and a five-member Selection Advisory Panel. Forty candidates were interviewed during a series of interview rounds from June 29 through October 3 to ensure the composition of the new commission met criteria outlined in Section 115-5, including the voices of victims’ families, youth and people who have been incarcerated.
Once approved by Cleveland City Council, Commissioners will receive a customized training program to ensure they understand the numerous powers and duties outlined in Charter Section 115-5 and afford them skills and tools to make decisions about police recruitment, training and discipline.
The new Community Police Commission is fully funded to carry out their powers and duties, with $2.1 million allocated in the 2022 budget and a chartered requirement to receive no less than $1 million annually, as well as a grantmaking budget at least 0.5 per cent of the Division of Police’s budget.
Over the past year, the Bibb administration has been working diligently to fully implement the will of the people since the passage of Issue 24. As a result, Cleveland is becoming increasingly recognized as a national model for police reform, with cities in Ohio and across the country adopting similar oversight bodies.
About the nominees:
James M. Chura
“I want to develop a disciplinary framework that ensures the completion of fair and impartial investigations in allegations of police misconduct.” – James
James Chura has 33 years of experience in police patrol and investigative operations. He served as the officer in charge of the Integrity Control Section which included the Internal Affairs Unit, the Inspection Unit, and the Overtime Review Unit. He rose through the ranks of the Cleveland Police Department starting out as a patrolman and rising to commander.
James also served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve and has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Kent University. He is a lifetime Cleveland resident and lives in West Park with his wife and son. James represents the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 8.
Charles Donaldson Jr.
“It is imperative that the Commission upholds the expectations of Cleveland residents and ensures that the path to police reform is both collaborative and impartial.” – Charles
Charles Donaldson Jr. is a talent acquisition specialist for Sherwin-Williams Company. He has extensive experience in human resources and management as well as being a Member of the Society for Human Resource Management.
Charles was an active-duty officer of the U.S. Coast Guard for five years and rose to the rank of Lieutenant. For the past 10 years, he has been a proud Cleveland resident.
Pastor Kyle Earley
“I desire to serve on the commission because of my experience in being a convener, community organizer and bridge builder. The opportunity to serve on this commission gives us all the opportunity to bring accountability to our police department and community.” – Pastor Earley
Kyle Earley serves as senior pastor at the City of God Church on the East Side of Cleveland. He has over 15 years of activism, organizing and community building experience in the Cleveland area and serves as President of the Faith Movement.
Kyle is also a board member at the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland and a member of the NAACP.
“Not only am I a concerned citizen that is directly impacted by the effectiveness of our police force, but I also was and continue to be a strong supporter of the legislative changes that resulted in this commission.” – Alana
Alana Garrett-Ferguson is a policy associate at the Center for Community Solutions. She brings a wealth of experience in community organizing, program management, and policy and advocacy work.
She has worked for several community-based organizations, including Ohio Women’s Alliance, New Voices for Reproductive Justice, Youth Opportunities Unlimited, Open Doors Academy, and Rainey Institute. She is a part of the greater faith community and a member of the Cleveland NAACP and Board of the Abortion Fund of Ohio. Alana previously served on the Community & Problem-Oriented Policing Committee.
“I envision a more just, sustainable, and equitable policing system that serves all people, created using the voices and experiences of those who are most impacted.” – Cait
Cait Kennedy is the Executive Director and co-founder of unBail, a free app that democratizes information about the criminal legal system. unBail delivers valuable and relevant legal information to defendants and their families in plain language, empowering them to advocate for themselves and proactively
plan for the future.
Cait Kennedy is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology & Politics and Global Citizenship at Baldwin Wallace University and Assistant Director of the Community Research Institute. She is a Ph.D. candidate at the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University and a 2019 graduate of the College's Master of Science in Urban Studies program.
“I think the new Community Police Commission would have a huge impact on the public trust in the police department. People in neighborhoods like mine are very skeptical of the police department and have never trusted them to police themselves. People would have more confidence in the Commission and feel they are being represented.” – Gregory
Gregory Reaves works as a career coach for Towards Employment. He has extensive knowledge of the criminal justice system as a previously incarcerated individual and advocate for those with criminal backgrounds.
Gregory is a born and raised Clevelander and attended John F. Kennedy Senior High School in the Lee-Miles neighborhood, where he previously spoke to at-risk youth.
“The greatest role of the new Community Police Commission is to create trust and credibility in the oversight process – on both sides, residents and police.” – Jan
Jan Ridgeway is the Board President & Volunteer Director of Garden Valley Neighborhood House. She is a retired Cleveland Public Librarian where she served as a Community Outreach & Public Affairs administrator. Before that, she worked in the library system in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County and Anchorage for more than thirty years.
Jan is a community activist and organizer and has worked directly with nearly every demographic in the city. She grew up on a farm in Georgia and has lived in Cleveland for more than twenty years.
Piet van Lier
“As a resident of Cleveland, I believe that everyone, no matter what they look like or where they live, has the right to be safe and treated with respect.” – Piet
Piet van Lier is a senior researcher at Policy Matters Ohio. His current research and analysis focuses on civil rights and criminal justice reform to reimagine public safety in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County.
Previously, Piet was the executive director of the Cleveland Transformation Alliance. He began his career as a journalist and worked as peace and human rights activist with an organization called Peace Brigades International in Central America and Mexico. Piet grew up in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood and now lives on the near West side with his wife and two children.
“I believe that Cleveland has the potential to be exceptional. However, for Cleveland to reach its potential, we must address ongoing tensions between the police and the community.” – Teri
Teri Wang is a writer and academic consultant living in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood. She is experienced in scientific and data analysis, as well as implicit bias research.
Teri was born in Shanghai, China and moved to the United States when she was six years old. She attended Harvard University for Biochemistry and Art History and now is the Chair of Community Partnerships for the Asian American Coalition of Ohio.
“This is the city I love, my city of choice. I’ve been hurt by her, but I refuse to give up on her. As Cleveland residents, it is up to us to create the positive change we want seen in policing, violence and community policy/engagement.” – Sharena
Sharena Zayed is the North Broadway Network Weaver for University Settlement. She has an abundance of experience in community outreach and engagement.
Sharena has lived in Cleveland all her life and works for multiple community organizations, including serving as a board chair of Stop the Pain, Inc., board member of Chagrin Arts, and member of Citizens to Bring Back North Broadway.
Sharena tragically lost her 15-year-old son to gun violence in March 2020 and is an advocate for families.
City Council Selections
Dr. John Adams
“My goal is to foster better relations between the police and different communities because there is a disconnect, and a divide in dire need of repair.” - Dr. Adams
Dr. John Adams is the former chair of the social studies department and current 9th grade leader for the Cleveland School of Science and Medicine. He received his Ph.D. in African American history with a specialty in Civil Rights and gender from Rutgers University, where he researched the life and activism of Daisy and L.C. Bates. His research includes the history of law enforcement and the Black community.
John is active in several community organizations, including the Cleveland Association of Black School Educators, the Ohio Council of Social Studies, the Thurgood Marshall Oratorical Debate and Education Project, and has been a panelist for the City Club of Cleveland as well as spoke to the State Board of Education about education reform and Critical Race Theory.
“We will all be safer when we can reimagine what the relationship and response can be between carers, law enforcement, and the community, and I want that for our city.” - Shandra
Shandra Benito is a licensed social worker who works as the Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the Nord Center. She has a background in working in mental health, survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, people with disabilities, justice-involved youth, and people experiencing homelessness.
Shandra has previously served as a commissioner in Seattle for the Commission on People with Disabilities and their Public Safety Committee and has a wealth of knowledge regarding public policy and community outreach.
“It is my hope that serving on the board would help to improve public safety, build trusting relationships between communities & police, and create a national safety model.” - Audrianna
Audrianna Rodriguez works as a family advocate at The Centers for Children and Families for three Cleveland Metropolitan Schools. She received a master's degree in community psychology with a concentration in clinical services from University of New Haven.
Audrianna is a member of the Cleveland Branch of the NAACP, Cleveland Chapter of the National Congress of Black Women, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and member of the 4th District Community Relations Community. She has a breadth of experience in community organization, engagement, and outreach.