What the Dispatch’s Bruce Cadwallader failed to report in his August 29 article is important in order to understand Cornell McCleary’s relationship with law enforcement and why he may have volunteered to investigate the Miller case. McCleary openly admitted on his August 31 WTVN talk show that he is a long time trainer of law enforcement officers. He bills himself as Commander Cornell H. McCleary of the PRO-Private Police Training Academy. McCleary founded the Civilian Criminal Activities Task Force (CCATF), “a formal citizen information and resource networking organization,” in 1989.

In an article authored by McCleary entitled “The Kenneth French Story” found on the Kenneth W. French Memorial site on the web, a photo of McCleary flanking former Franklin County Sheriff Earl O. Smith and former City of Columbus Police Chief, Dwight D. Joseph is prominently displayed. McCleary details his working relationships with Smith as well as stating, “McCleary served as the primary communications liaison between Sheriff Smith and former Columbus Police Chief Dwight D. Joseph and the community.” McCleary described the work of the CCATF as follows: “Information passed through the network was then verified by private investigators, after being verified, was then passed on to the law enforcement community, on a ‘Silver Platter.’”

Not only did McCleary have a working relationship with the Columbus Police and the Sheriff’s department, he also notes that he was working with Benchmark Investigative Services. McCleary writes that “Benchmark’s investigators openly armed with 9mm and camcorders, harassed the suspect street dealers to interfere with the street dealers’ ability to sell their illegal product.”

A 1999 Dispatch article reports that in 1997, “McCleary received a $9,900 unbid contract from Columbus Public Service Director Thomas W. Rice. The contract, which was $100 under the amount requiring the City Council’s approval, was awarded after McCleary sided with Rice in his ongoing battle with Police Chief James G. Jackson.”

Dispatch articles also establish that McCleary has long-standing run-ins with liberal black Democratic leaders such as Sam Gresham of the Urban League and Columbus School Board member Bill Moss. McCleary is listed as a Republican Party Central Committee member, was endorsed as a Republican City Council candidate in 2001 and finished last in the election, and served as the Republican Party’s Minority Outreach Coordinator.

Many black political activists see the McCleary report as a blatant attempt to avoid a Cincinnati scenario with racial strife, riots and subsequent boycott of the city that followed the Timothy Thomas shooting. Thomas was also a black man shot in the back while running from police. Black community leaders see the Dispatch’s reporting as disingenuous, pro-police and a declaration of open season on black youth who run from cops.

The term “menace to society” in McCleary’s report and his harsh condemnation of Miller are also seen as vicious racist stereotypes and hypocritical. In 1993, McCleary’s 16-year-old son fired five shots from a semi-automatic pistol into the Gahanna Lincoln High School cafeteria ceiling while it was full of students. His son was “. . . charged with a delinquency count of carrying a concealed weapon and a count of improperly discharging a firearm in a school . . . [and] with three counts of felonious assault,” according to a March 11, 1993 Dispatch article. His son was sentenced to two years probation after Judge Ronald L. Solove told him “It was only through the grace of God and your luck that no one was injured.”

When a gun incident involved McCleary’s son, he was much more liberal. He told the Dispatch, “Even though a kid made a mistake, he’s still a kid” and the Dispatch reported that “McCleary also criticized the district for its initial stand against his son, saying that a white student who held a gun to a student’s head was treated less harshly.”

Holding McCleary to his logic used in the Miller report, police would have been justified in shooting and killing his son as a “menace to society.”

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