Cleveland’s rise in violent crime makes national headlines, city leaders react

Some leaders blame policing, others say it’s a broader issue
Updated: Jan. 4, 2021 at 10:18 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -The increase in violent crimes in the city of Cleveland is making national headlines, landing on the front page of the New York Times recently. City leaders spoke with 19 News about what can be done to bring peace back to the streets.

There were more than 180 homicides in Cleveland in 2020. Councilman Blaine Griffin of Ward 6 says the rise in crime is “a symptom of greater social ills.” Griffin, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, says until poverty, racial injustice, and the impacts of the pandemic can be addressed, the crime will continue.

According to Cleveland Police, there were 14 shootings from December 31st to January 4th, including the first homicide of 2021 on New Year’s Day.

“When you look at the number of felonious assaults, the people who have just been shot look at those numbers, if that doesn’t frighten you, I don’t know what will,” said Councilman Mike Polensek, who’s also the Dean of the City Council.

Polensek says the city is failing when it comes to policing.

“That’s what I hear from my constituents. They want more police in the street; they want a police department that’s accountable and is productive and professional and one that reflect the ethnic and racial diversity of this city,” Polensek added.

Councilman Griffin says it’s a broader problem.

“Yes, we do need more police officers, we do need better-trained police officers, we need officers who are doing 21st century policing, we need police officers who are technologically savvy, but we can’t just blame society’s problems on the police,” said Griffin.

Councilman Griffin says many of the violent crimes in 2020 were random, but most involved people who knew each other. He says the council is committed to getting to the root of the problem.

“In addition to homicides, I’m concerned about domestic violence issues, I’m concerned about some of these other felonious assaults,” he added.

19 News reached out to Mayor Frank Jackson for comment. His office sent the same joint statement released with the police chief weeks ago.

It reads:

“The City of Cleveland and urban areas across the United States have been severely affected by skyrocketing violent crime statistics including shootings and homicides. While many of the cases can be traced to incidents of drug and gang activity, the exact cause of the drastic increase is unknown. Investigators continue to work hard every day to solve cases while policing in unprecedented circumstances in times where situations and resources change rapidly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Law Enforcement continue to encourage citizens to report criminal activity to police and remind members of the public that they can do so anonymously to Crimestoppers by calling 216-25-CRIME.

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