For Immediate Release
September 26, 2023
Cleveland, OH – Today the Board of Trustees voted and approved seven members who will serve as the newly created Civilian Oversight Committee (COC). The inaugural COC consists of the following individuals: Elise Auvil, Timothy Clary, Jakolya Gordon, David Morris, Steven Sims, George Taylor, and Rebecca Wharton. The seven members were selected by the GCRTA Board of Trustees through an application and interview process.
“The creation of a voluntary civilian oversight committee exemplifies our dedication to proactively nurture a culture of accountability and transparency within the GCRTA Transit Police Department,” said GCRTA Board Member Lauren R. Welch, Chair, Ad Hoc Selection Committee for the COC. “The committee’s purpose is to review public complaints filed against GCRTA Transit Police Department employees and make recommendations for the resolution of public complaints regarding alleged misconduct by Transit Police employees.” The creation of the COC is a proactive strategy, as opposed to a mandate, to provide community voice and build public trust.
The role of a COC member includes:
- Improving relationships by fostering communication between community and police.
- Increasing public understanding of GCRTA police policies and procedures.
- Improving the quality of Transit Police Internal Affairs investigations.
- Recommending and identifying areas of concern and offering options to improve policing.
COC members will receive training and familiarization on police tactics, bias-free policing, federal, state, and local laws involving police-citizen encounters, GCRTA Transit Police policies, procedures, and disciplinary rules, and GCRTA’s Code of Ethics during Q4 of this year.
“I’m excited about this team and of the various levels of work experience they bring to this committee, and I thank them all for their willingness to make such a commitment to serve the community in this capacity,” said GCRTA Board President, Rev. Charles P. Lucas, Pastor Emeritus, St. James AME Church. “Establishing this committee continues to demonstrate GCRTA’s commitment to building trust through transparency and engagement with community stakeholders.”
“GCRTA stands firm in the belief that a blend of traditional policing and modern civilian outreach is an effective combination in resolving issues identified aboard public transit, or at public transit stations or transit centers,” said GCRTA General Manager and Chief Executive Officer India L. Birdsong Terry. “As we move forward, our Transit Police will continue to review our policing and safety strategy to increase visibility, deter crime, and assist in investigation resolution. These efforts are intended to assist and enhance the overall safety of our customers, employees, and the public.”
For a complete overview of COC visit https://www.riderta.com/coc for details.
GCRTA was formed in 1975 with the mission of providing public transit services to the 59 communities and 1.2 million residents of Cuyahoga County. As the largest public transit agency in the State of Ohio, GCRTA’s service options include bus, BRT, trolley, paratransit and three rail lines. GCRTA makes connections that empower individuals, neighborhoods, and communities to rise.
COC members pictured left to right; George Taylor, Timothy Clary, David Morris, Elise Auvil, Jakolya Gordon, Rebecca Wharton, and Steven Sims