I would like to share with you some important information regarding an incident that occurred on the evening of Tuesday, September 29 involving a Shaker Heights police officer assigned to work a security detail for the presidential debate in Cleveland.
While on duty, the officer reportedly made an obscene gesture to a group of Black Lives Matter demonstrators. On the following day, Wednesday, September 30, the officer was placed on administrative leave and an investigation was immediately initiated. Under the terms and conditions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the police officer’s union, the officer is afforded certain due process rights, which include a right to appear at a pre-disciplinary hearing and the right to appeal any decision. As a result of the internal investigation, on Wednesday, October 14 a pre-disciplinary hearing was held. Following this hearing, a decision was reached regarding appropriate discipline in this matter.
The officer’s employment with the Shaker Heights Police Department has been terminated, effective immediately.
The City of Shaker Heights and the Shaker Heights Police Department (SHPD) moved promptly and decisively because we consider this incident a very serious matter. The behavior of this officer violates all that the SHPD stands for including our unwavering commitment to preserving the rights of Black Lives Matter and all demonstrators to peacefully protest. I know I speak for City Council, Police Chief DeMuth and the many dedicated Shaker Heights police officers when I say that we condemn, in the strongest way possible, any action by a police officer that interferes with or disrespects the rights of citizens to demonstrate peacefully.
The men and women of the SHPD are dedicated to upholding the highest standards of professional conduct and to the fair and equal protection of all individuals; it is embedded into the oath which they swore to honor upon becoming a police officer and to which they are deeply committed. When that oath is violated, we stand united in taking swift and appropriate action. We know our residents expect and deserve this, as do the many police officers who serve with the utmost professionalism on a daily basis.
We recognize that this incident has damaged the relationship between the police and the community. We have worked hard to build this relationship and earn your trust, and we will continue to do so. I hope that our actions in this case demonstrate our resolute commitment to treating and protecting all residents of Shaker Heights with dignity and respect, and in a just, fair, equal and professional manner. We know you expect that of our officers, and they expect that of themselves and of each other.
David E. Weiss