Cait Kennedy has been nominated by City of Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb as one of 10 new members of a strengthened Community Police Commission.
In addition to her studies at the Maxine Goodman Levin School of Urban Affairs as a PhD Candidate, 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. She also serves as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology & Politics and Global Citizenship at Baldwin Wallace University and Assistant Director of the Community Research Institute. Kennedy is also a 2019 graduate of the College’s Master of Science in Urban Education.
The City of Cleveland’s historic police reform efforts were put in place by Issue 24 in City Charter Section 115 and were carefully selected as the result of an extensive public engagement process. 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 the city, as prescribed in Charter Section 115-5.
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,” Mayor Bibb said. “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.”
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 to 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.
More can be found about Cait Kennedy and her role as co-founder of unBail here.