DOWNTOWN CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - This past weekend, several deadly shootings took place in Cleveland. Mayoral candidates responded Monday to the violence.
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, seeking his fourth term in office, held news conference at Cleveland City Hall. He was flanked by Chief of Police Calvin Williams, Safety Director Mike McGrath, Commander Gary Gingell, Community Relations Director Blaine Griffin, Council President Kevin J. Kelley, Councilman Matt Zone, Councilwoman Phyllis Cleveland, ATF Resident Agent in Charge Eric Frey, and FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen Anthony.
Jackson boiled down the deadly shootings to an over-availability of guns to youth in the community. The mayor and police chief called on residents to help, saying police are reactionary by nature.
Jackson said residents need to call when they see something, and not be afraid to report kids in the neighborhood breaking the law.
Jackson said the lack of a Home Rule, which was stripped away by the governor and Ohio state legislature, hurts the city's ability to slow access to guns, especially among young people.
Councilman Jeff Johnson of Ward 10, the only well-known candidate to challenge Jackson so far, talked about the violence in Cleveland being a crisis.
He says pumping money into downtown instead of out in the communities is the wrong way to go. He calls on a freeze of money going to downtown development and that millions should be redirected to recreation centers, well-kept parks, apprenticeships, job training, and investments in small businesses.
He, like all the candidates, wants more well-trained and disciplined police walking the beat, not driving around in cruisers. Johnson said he doesn't think Jackson, nor many of his colleagues at city hall take these killings and the violence seriously enough.
Ward 2 councilman Zack Reed, who has not yet announced his bid for mayor, is expected to do so in April.
Reed's big thing is more cops walking the streets, fewer guns, and more community involvement. Reed calls for the use of what is called "violence interrupters," people who have a history and/or personal knowledge of the streets to go to families and victims of crime to talk them down from retaliation.
He, like Jackson and Johnson, wants to use best practices from around the country to curb the violence plaguing the streets of Cleveland and destroying families. Reed says a concentrated presence of police in high crime areas would go a long way in terms of stopping drive-by shootings and fights that have resulted in 30 deaths so far in 2017.